Dominique Ansel is feeling lucky. How could you not, in Las Vegas? The man behind the made-for-social-media Cronut (although he’s much more than that, too) is getting ready to open up shop in Sin City, where he’ll be debuting an exclusive collection of pastries not available anywhere else in the world.
The “Lucky 7” were inspired by those little good luck charms we all put our faith in, Ansel exclusively told Robb Report ahead of the Vegas opening on October 21, when the new bakery will launch inside Caesars Palace, adjacent to the Gordon Ramsay Pub & Grill. Ansel himself is a particular fan of the Lucky Penny Pig—“very cute and simple,” he said—which features milk chocolate crémeux, raspberry jam and salted peanut feuilletine sandwiched between vanilla sablé cookies and topped with a gilded chocolate penny. His other favorites include the Four Leaf Clover (coffee mousse with hazelnut dacquoise, dark chocolate crémeux and crispy feuilletine) and the Fortune Cookie (jasmine tea crémeux and lemon curd atop a sablé Breton base and a white chocolate “fortune”). Both look just like the real thing—except with the requisite Dominique Ansel twist.
“We want to bring some of the New York flair to Las Vegas,” Ansel said. The new bakery is “going to be a place where people can go to learn and discover new pastries … It’s cool and fun to have something new and something different that we don’t have anywhere else.”
Of course, you’ll still be able to grab the Ansel classics at the Vegas location, including the infamous Cronut, which will have a new flavor monthly, never repeating, as is tradition at the chef’s preexisting bakeries. Cookie shots, frozen s’mores and the DKA (Ansel’s take on a kouign amann, which is the best-selling pastry at all of his shops) will also be available. And Ansel will continue to serve up that most iconic of French pastries: the croissant.
“If you don’t know how to make a good staple like a croissant, it’s hard to do all the good pastries,” he said. “And I’m still looking for the perfect croissant. I don’t think it does exist, but I’m still aiming for it.”
In the general consciousness, Las Vegas quite obviously differs from New York: The former is all gambling and popping bottles and shotgun marriages. The latter is dollar slices, the Yankees and “I <3 NY” T-shirts. (Okay, this is an extremely reductionist view of both places, but please put aside your holier-than-thou attitude for at least a minute.) But what both places have in common is a cavalcade of tourists who want each city to just play the hits.
Ansel’s hit is the Cronut. And now you can once again get the croissant-donut hybrid on opposite ends of the country (Ansel used to have a location in Los Angeles). Tourists will likely be very happy about that. But Ansel isn’t opening up shop in Las Vegas for the tourists—or at least not just for the tourists.
“There’s a lot of locals in Vegas,” he said. “I want them to come to the bakery; I want them to enjoy it. And I want them to come back.”
To ensure that happens, Ansel will spend a few weeks in Las Vegas overseeing the opening (he’s typically based in New York). Then, he’ll go back to the city three or four times a year, to check in on his team and see how the shop is faring. From afar, he’ll still have a hand in the daily operations: At all of his shops, every day before opening, he checks in with his team for what they call a “cross section.” Basically, a croissant is cut in half, the team takes photos of it, and Ansel and the crew analyze it together, to make sure everything is up to snuff and to figure out what minute part of the baking process might need to change to produce an even more ideal pastry.
Still, he has a lot of trust in the people he’s already hired to help Dominique Ansel Las Vegas win over both locals and tourists alike. Sin City is full of talented chefs, he said, “and all the staff that we have hired so far are proving me right. They have skills, they have knowledge, they’re passionate about baking.”
The excess of Las Vegas may not precisely align with the simplicity and elegance of French pastry. But Ansel is the guy who decided that a singular croissant or donut wasn’t enough; we needed to have both, at once. In terms of his own business, though, the pastryman is much more of a minimalist.
At one point, he had locations everywhere from New York to London to Los Angeles. The pandemic was the demise of his shops in those latter two cities, and now he has a presence only in Hong Kong and New York, where he runs a workshop alongside his original Soho location. Las Vegas is the only expansion currently in the cards.
“I don’t want to go too fast or do too much,” he explained. “I want to make sure that every shop we open has a real meaning, and that we’re proud of it. So it’s not about the quantity for me; it’s about the quality.”
He’s hoping the Vegas bakery will live up to that mindset. So perhaps the Lucky 7 collection isn’t just a cute idea for the gamblers and hopeless romantics of Sin City, where everyone is betting that their good luck will keep on coming. Maybe the pastries are Ansel’s way of manifesting some of that good luck for himself, too.
Click here to see all the photos of Dominique Ansel Las Vegas.