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    Sunday, June 23, 2024

    On Foxwoods’ Great Cedar Concourse, things are sweet

    Celebrity Pastry Chef Zac Young places a tray of High Rollers, fancy jumbo donuts, on the counter Friday, April 12, 2024, in his new Sprinkletown Donuts & Ice Cream before the ribbon cutting ceremony at Foxwoods Resort Casino. (Dana Jensen/The Day)
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    Celebrity pastry chef Zac Young speaks Friday, April 12, 2024, during the ribbon cutting ceremony for his new Sprinkletown Donuts & Ice Cream at Foxwoods Resort Casino. (Dana Jensen/The Day)
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    A tray of High Rollers, fancy jumbo donuts, on the counter Friday, April 12, 2024, in celebrity Pastry Chef Zac Young’s new Sprinkletown Donuts & Ice Cream before the ribbon cutting ceremony at Foxwoods Resort Casino. (Dana Jensen/The Day)
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    Celebrity pastry chef Zac Young cuts the ribbon Friday, April 12, 2024, during the ribbon cutting ceremony for his new Sprinkletown Donuts & Ice Cream at Foxwoods Resort Casino. (Dana Jensen/The Day)
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    Mashantucket ― Foxwoods Resort Casino’s newest sweet spot grew out of a pop-up store.

    There’s PieCaken in its past, too.

    Zac Young’s Sprinkletown Donuts & Ice Cream, the latest entry in Foxwoods’ ongoing culinary transformation, opened Friday on the casino’s Great Cedar Concourse opposite Cedars Steak & Oysters restaurant. Considered one of the top 10 pastry chefs in the country, Young joins Foxwoods’ all-star roster of celebrity chefs, which includes Gordon Ramsay, whose Hell’s Kitchen restaurant opened at the casino last summer.

    Young’s pop-up version of Sprinkletown thrived at Foxwoods a couple of years ago. His new confectionery is the first of what could eventually be many.

    “He’s got such a following,” Rodney Butler, chairman of the casino-owning Mashantucket Pequot Tribe, said during Friday’s Sprinkletown ribbon-cutting. “It was a no-brainer for us to host his first retail store.”

    Young, 41, has long had a connection to Foxwoods, serving as corporate pastry director for Craveable Hospitality Group, owners of two Foxwoods restaurants, the David Burke Prime steakhouse and Caputo Trattoria.

    “I hired Zac about 12 years ago at one of our New York restaurants,” said Stephen Goglia, Craveable’s president and chief executive officer, who took part in the ribbon-cutting. “He’s so creative.”

    Goglia related the story of the PieCaken, the 2015 Young creation that’s taken on a life of its own. Conceived as a whimsical Thanksgiving Day concoction ― “the TurDucken of desserts” ― the original PieCaken was a combination of pecan pie, pumpkin pie and spice cake layered with cinnamon buttercream and topped with apple pie filling. Other holiday versions now exist.

    “We went from Zac making them in the basement of one of our restaurants to selling tens of thousands of them,” Goglia said.

    He said Craveable is in discussions with a national chain interested in growing the Sprinkletown concept: “customizable doughnuts and signature ice cream sundaes with a ‘choose your own adventure’ menu.”

    “This feels like a homecoming,” Young, who grew up in Portland, Maine, said after Friday’s event. “I started coming to Foxwoods when I was 12 years old. My father would come down once a month with his poker buddies and I’d tag along. (Foxwoods) didn’t have as many family options then.”

    But now, he said, the casino, “despite its massiveness,” has the feel of a community, “small and precious.”

    Young said he was opening a Sprinkletown pop-up in a Chicago location when Jason Guyot, Foxwoods’ president and CEO, caught wind of it.

    “He called to say, ‘Why isn’t Zac doing a pop-up at Foxwoods?’ ” Young said. “I was on a plane the next day.”

    Young got the Foxwoods pop-up up and running in five days. Due to its popularity, its planned two-month stint grew to six months.

    He said PieCaken started as “a whim, a joke,” adding, “It’s not a joke anymore.”

    Sold online through the PieCaken Bakeshop, they go for $99.95 apiece.

    b.hallenbeck@theday.com

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