Luckily Dominique Ansel, the pastry chef responsible for dessert sensations like the Cronut, the Cookie Milk Shot and the burrata ice cream cone, doesn't need more than a few hours of sleep each night.
Although his eponymous flagship Manhattan bakery opens at 8 a.m. on weekdays, the chef and his staff arrive several hours earlier to prepare for the crowd that inevitably begins to form outside around 7 a.m. (Depending on the day, there might be 80 to 100 people waiting by the time the doors open, and the flow continues until 11 a.m.) Although Ansel is known for his decadent creations, his own morning routine, which begins in the wee hours and involves fresh juice and exercise, is downright virtuous.
We caught up with the busy chef, who stopped by TODAY's office to demonstrate his juicing skills as part of our Morning Routine series.
What time do you typically get up?
My daily wake up time is usually 4:30 a.m., although some days I get to snooze until 5 a.m.
Ouch, that's early! What time are you usually in bed?
I probably answer my last e-mail right around midnight and then go to sleep between then and 1 a.m.
Do you set an alarm? Snooze or no snooze?
My phone probably has every alarm time set possible. I set both the phone and the regular alarm clock as a backup. But there's never much time to snooze. And even on my days off, I naturally wake up by 6 a.m.
Once you're up, what's your basic routine?
Brush teeth, floss, get dressed, resist coffee, take a multivitamin, resist coffee again for fresh juice, then head over to work.
How's the coffee-resisting going?
I made a New Year's resolution to give up coffee and drink a morning juice instead, and I bought myself a new juicer as part of that. But that hasn’t exactly worked because I’m already back to one coffee a day. So now I suppose the plan is to continue to do both — a fresh juice first thing in the morning and a double macchiato once I’m at the bakery. I'm very much a coffee person, and it's always a double macchiato.
What's your favorite juice concoction? What else do you eat in the mornings?
For the juice, I'll do a blend of pineapple, mint, celery, cucumber and green apple. I've also started taking a daily multivitamin — I'm not 20 anymore! (Ansel recently turned 39.) When I get to the bakery, I'm tasting food all day — so there are many, many breakfast items following the morning juice.
Do you have any rituals that help you get energized?
Sometimes exercise is more restorative than sleep and I try to fit in a run. When the weather is nice, I usually like to run outside. Hydrating is also important, hence the juice.
What's the one thing you need to do before your day can begin?
We recently opened a bakery in Tokyo, so before my day in New York begins, I check in with Japan, where it's already evening. It's been a strange adjustment dealing with two opposite time zones.
Any morning shortcuts that you swear by?
Nope. I've been (working in restaurants) since I was 16. At this point, it's programmed in me.