—THE CHOW 13—
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The person responsible for Martha Stewart uttering the words, “I couldn’t wait to sample the Crack Pie,” Christina Tosi is the Andy Warhol of pastry chefs. But instead of riffing on Marilyn Monroe and Campbell’s soup, Tosi uses commercial candy bars, sugared cereal, and other guilty pleasures of the industrial food complex for the desserts she invents for NYC’s three Momofuku restaurants and Momofuku Milk Bar. Her greatest hits have included the Compost Cookie: a chewy-crunchy, salty-sweet, hot mess of corn flakes, coffee grounds, graham cracker crumbs, potato chips, and butterscotch chips. And then there’s her “cereal milk,” which she makes by toasting corn flakes and steeping them in sweetened milk, and is used to flavor soft-serve ice cream, milk, and pie.
The 27-year-old, who modeled Milk Bar on Dairy Queen and told New York magazine she ate a bag of Doritos and Ben & Jerry’s for dinner the night before an interview, is a leader in the white-tablecloth backlash. Tosi’s desserts come from the same fascination with lowbrow food that has inspired the Bouluds of the world to open hot dog joints and the Jacques Torreses to erect ice cream stands. But where others are content to create yet another red velvet cupcake, Tosi is pushing haute-trash food away from kitsch into something truly new and different.
If you weren’t doing this what would you be doing?
“Eating cookie dough at home. Or being a truck driver with my dogs. Or renovating an old house and selling old clothes out of a little shop in the middle of nowhere. Or being a math teacher.”
Who was your biggest mentor and why?
“Wylie Dufresne [of WD-50, where Tosi worked prior to Momofuku] challenged me to change my way of thinking and really dissect the whys of my point of view and food perspective. [Momofuku’s] Dave Chang (don’t tell him I said so) for being a pusher and a doer, questioning everything, accepting nothing, breeding creativity out of the most challenging limitations, and making sure I’m always in just a little over my head.”
What was your most humbling moment in your current job?
“Opening Milk Bar with four people on staff. What were we thinking?”