Alyosha Smolarski may be New York’s only pastry chef who also dissects body parts. The Greenpoint resident and pathologist’s assistant spends his weekdays working in a hospital, and his weekends up to his elbows in 00 flour, sugar and Icelandic butter, making dozens of croissants which he vends via his Instagram business, Alyosha Bakery.
“There’s a demand for quality croissants in New York,” Smolarski said. Growing up in the city, the French New Yorker attended Lycée Français and then took advantage of his dual citizenship to live in Paris, where the croissants were notably much better than what he could find back in New York.
A few years ago, Smolarski tried making croissants himself. “And I learned how difficult it was,” he said. With the endless days of the pandemic on his side, he took another jab at the notoriously tricky laminated pastry, eventually landing on a product he could sell to friends, and then friends of friends, and eventually, Internet strangers.
“The experimenting period never ends,” Smolarski said. “Every week i’m doing something a little different.” Croissants, which rely on laminated dough, are weather dependent, and Smolarski’s unheated Banker Street loft provides interesting conditions for his weekly baking. He’s settled on an egg-free, low hydration recipe, which uses just a little bit of his own sourdough starter, a tip he picked up from Parisian artisanal patisseries. “Just a small amount adds a lot of personality to the product,” he said.
Alyosha Croissants are currently sold on Instagram, $10 for three, and delivered within a five-mile radius of Greenpoint, from Red Hook to the Upper West Side. Smolarski continues to expand his croissant knowledge and is looking into hiring a friend or two to support his expansion. He’d love to soon launch a croissant subscription plan, as he sees regular customers weekly, as well as sell croissants in local cafes. His first partnership will be with Le Gamin, where he will sell his freshly baked goods and maybe even take advantage of the French restaurant’s larger kitchen space.