Is this a golden age of desserts?

 Dominique Ansel cookbook and cronuts

For many years - decades , even - desserts at restaurants were often an afterthought. Only in the finest dining establishments would you find a dedicated pastry chef who would put together a well-considered, challenging, and delicious dessert menu. In the aftermath of the financial crisis in the late 2000s, even those restaurants began to cut their pastry programs. But not only has pastry rebounded, says Eater NY, we may be living in a golden age of desserts.

Eater credits one person with opening the door to better restaurant desserts: Dominique Ansel. The Cronut, which debuted four years ago, "rocked the world of pastry in a way that no one could have predicted," according to author Marguerite Preston. And even though it lead to something akin to an arms race of hybridized, over-the-top desserts, it also led to renewed interest in serious pastry. 

You may not know it, but Ansel is a classically-trained pastry chef who excels at traditional items like viennoiserie and petit fours.  "When we first opened," he told Eater, "people told me that French pastries wouldn't sell in New York - that I would need to do cupcakes or cheesecake." Now the pastry landscape has undergone a seismic shift, he says, with renewed interest in the pastry arts driving innovation and creativity in desserts.  

One thing hasn't rebounded as well as the interest in pastry, however. Salaries for pastry chefs remain stagnant. Another issue that concerns pastry chefs is the push toward having "Instagram-worthy" desserts. They worry that the focus on gorgeous photographs may come at the expense of desserts that are simple or are not that photogenic. 

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