The world renowned pastry chef, Dominique Ansel, opened his first full-service restaurant as well as bakery at the Grove in Los Angeles on November 10, 2017.  I have been a loyal fan since I took a bite of a Mirabelle Plum & Brown Sugar Cronut that my cousin brought all the way back to SF from NYC, so nothing was going to stop me from waking up at 6am to get line at the Grove on grand opening day for a cronut.

Lucky for me, our Spoon UCLA chapter was invited behind-the-scenes for an inside look of the bakery and have a one-on-one interview with Chef Dominique Ansel himself. 

The Taste Test

Rachel Lee

First (and probably the only reason why you're reading this article), the debut Cronut flavor was the Peach White Peach Amaretto with Muscavado Sugar, "filled with white peach amaretto jam and muscavado ganache." I loved how when you take a bite, the "dough crust" mixes perfectly with the filling oozing out. The white peach jam was unique and fruity, so the Cronut was just the perfect amount of sweetness. It was definitely worth waiting two hours in line for. 

Rachel Lee

Another pastry that you must pick up is the DKA (Dominique’s Kouign-Amann). It is almost like a ball of croissant dough that is flaky and tender on the inside, and caramelized and crunchy on the outside. To me, I prefer it more than the Cronut just because this dough was more of a savory rather than a purely sweet dough, so it was very tasty when it was paired with the sugar from the outside. So yes, I am Team DKA (sorry, Team Cronut). 

amali curry

Since this is Dominique Ansel's first bakery on the West Coast, of course he has some specials for us Californians. The Avocado Toast Ice Cream Sandwich was, hands down, the best. The "toast" was a shortbread cookie, and it was layered with ricotta mascarpone ice cream and avocado olive oil ice cream which was nice and creamy with strong avocado flavor (yum!). It was garnished with dragonfruit bits, freeze-dried raspberries, sea salt, and olive oil. When I first tasted the sea salt, I was a little confused, but then it really did contrast with the sweetness from the ice cream and cookie which went very well together. Also, what Californian doesn't love our favorite avocado?!

Rachel Lee

As we were waiting in line before the bakery opened its doors at 9am, we were served these adorable mini madelines. The hint of lemon inside of them really added to the flavor and made you want to just eat a bunch because they're bite-sized. I would actually be Team DKA and Team Madeline if that was a thing.

Our Interview with Chef Dominique Ansel

Anna Yang

The most exciting part of our day was getting to meet the Dominique Ansel himself (we were fan-girling pretty hard. I mean, he is our celebrity crush.)! Thank you so much to Chef Ansel for taking time out of his busy grand opening day to speak with us about his new bakery. 

Question #1 : From our understanding, this is your first bakery on the West Coast. What has brought you to L.A. and what makes this bakery and store different and unique from the other stores that you have opened? 

"L.A. is a city that I absolutely love and I've been here many many times. I like the food scene, culture, weather, and the people. Having so much to learn from this [city] and so much to see, it's a very attractive city. We have a lot of people coming from California into our shops in New York. I know its a long trip so I wanted to have the chance to reach out to people here." 

" [The] bakery is very different from the other ones because we have a menu dedicated to Los Angeles and California inspiration. Also on the second floor, we have 189 by Dominique Ansel which is our first sit down restaurant with a full menu, bar, private dining room, and patio. We do really fun brunch and we have an amazing dinner menu as well." 

Question #2: You're an incredible baker and always coming up with new and innovative recipes, what is the inspiration behind the Avocado Toast Ice Cream Sandwich? 

"Avocado is something that is very popular in California and I wanted to do something fun and cold for this beautiful city of Los Angeles. [It's] the idea of transforming the simple avocado toast." 

Question #3: This month's Cronut flavor is White Peach Muscavado. Why did you choose this flavor to premiere your bakery in LA? 

"The flavor of the Cronut was inspired by the seasonal fruit. I always loved [the] California peach. [I thought of] fresh and fruity for our first Cronut flavor in Los Angeles. We have done tons of different flavors in every different country and every different location and we don't repeat the same one. So for LA, muscavado and peach would be a good one." 

Question #4: What kind of experience do you hope people will get when they stop by your bakery or restaurant? 

"When people come to our place, I just hope that they remember having fun, [having] a good time and good food, and they remember that it's a place that means something for them.  Memories always come with emotions and it's an important thing for me - reaching out to people with memories and emotions."

Once again, we'd like to thank the Dominique Ansel team for letting Spoon UCLA come in. This was truly one of the best foodie experiences we have had by far, and you'll see us back in line for more cronuts, DKAs, and all the L.A. treats!