The Cronut™ has been with us for a year now. In that time, the mutant pastry has sapped millions of hours from people’s lives: from the people who line up each day as the dawn breaks to taste one, lured by tales of its creamy center and precise flakiness; from the hundreds of cooks laboring at other, lesser bakeries to create passable knockoffs to foist upon their own unsuspecting customers; from the billions of people reading, watching and hearing about them, despite their best intentions, thanks to utterly endless media coverage; and from the writers and journalists tasked by their editors with fomenting Cronut™ mania week after week, day in and day out. For creating this madness, Dominique Ansel has been rewarded with the 2014 James Beard Award for Outstanding Pastry Chef.
The James Beard Awards are like the Academy Awards of food, so Ansel’s win seems like a definitive repudiation of anybody who barked that Cronuts™ were overhyped balls of dough, thickly layered with media froth. Here’s the thing: The Restaurant and Chef Awards are chosen by food writers — the very people behind the Cronuts™ madness of the last twelve months. Ansel’s win, in other words, is not so much critical validation as it is the food media justifying its own machinations, which have resulted in the single most overblown microcosmic food craze of the last decade.