Last week, Cronut inventor Dominique Ansel dropped the bombshell news that he would open a second location of his NYC bakery in Tokyo. Details have been pretty scant so far, so Eater caught up with Ansel at his SoHo bakery to find out more.
"Opening in Tokyo is something I've always wanted to do," says Ansel of why he set his sights on Tokyo for his next bakery. "When you work in France as a pastry chef, lots of chefs have bakeries in Tokyo." Indeed: Parisian bakers and bakeries with outposts in Tokyo inlcude Ladurée, Pierre Hermé, Maison Kayser, and plenty others. Ansel also credits the serious culinary community of Tokyo as a reason why he wants to be there. "They have great product, quality, and cooking techniques." Another reason he chose Tokyo? The bakery has been getting plenty of Japanese visitors, Ansel says.
As he revealed in the initial announcement, Ansel is partnering with two companies to bring his bakery to Tokyo: TSI Holdings Co. and Transit General. TSI is a publicly traded Tokyo-based fashion company. Transit General is a food and retail behemoth that does everything from weddings to branding to operating cafes and "creating amusement space containing fashion, architect, music, design, art and cuisine elements." Ansel says that food and fashion "are two things that fit us perfectly" and that together these two partners "know the market."
Ansel has not yet confirmed the exact location, but he is looking to open in the Omotesando Hills area of Tokyo. "The neighborhood looks like the SoHo of Tokyo," he explains, "lots of fashion and the same feeling." While he might not know exactly where the shop will be, he does know where it won't be. "The thing is if you open a bakery in Tokyo, people think 'mall.' I don't want to open in a mall and we're not going to be in a mall."
I'd rather have one good shop than 100 bad ones.
Ansel elaborates on his vision for the Tokyo shop. "I want the place to be unique and special, I want to bring the charm from New York City to Tokyo. I don't want sculpture and gold everywhere, I want a new generation of bakery where we serve creative food with a relaxed New York attitude." Ansel will do training for his Tokyo bakers in New York, and will be in Tokyo to get the shop up and running. "We're also going to send our chefs Tokyo to make sure that we keep the consistent creativity up to our standards. I'd rather have one good shop than 100 bad ones."
While he will bringing many "star items" from his New York bakery, including the mania-inducing Cronut. Ansel is also working on new items for the Tokyo shop. "I'll create things especially for Tokyo," he explains. "In the same way that people come to New York to get the New York items, I want people to get the Tokyo specials in Tokyo." Stay tuned for more details as Ansel works towards an opening in 2015.