And think he does—a lot. Ansel is an inventor. If the Cronut isn’t evidence enough of that, consider the Cookie Shot, a play on that after-school favorite, cookies and milk. Ansel makes a mini cup out of chocolate chip cookie dough, lines it with Valrhona chocolate, and pours into it a shot’s worth of cold vanilla-infused milk. One bite and you’re transported to a time when your feet didn’t reach the ground as you sat at the kitchen table chomping on Oreos. There’s also the Frozen S’more, a knob of vanilla ice cream encased in a chocolate wafer and then a honey marshmallow, all of which is torched on an applewood-smoked branch. “I didn’t grow up eating s’mores,” Ansel says. “I learned about it here in America, that it has these memories and emotions attached to it. I like to watch people and how they eat, what they eat, how they feel when they eat,” he says. “Emotions are very important.”
What about Dominique Ansel, the man? What about the life he leads when he’s not dusted in cake flour? When asked what he cooks at home, he talks about the family meals he prepares for his staff. “When I was in Japan, I cooked twice for my team,” he says. “I cooked rabbit with a wine sauce and braised beef tongue. They loved it.” Ansel’s every answer points back to work.