Christina Tosi X Chef's Table
Christina Tosi was featured in the new season of Netflix's 'Chef's Table' and I cried at her episode. The way Christina pushes everyday to create the best baked goods, is how I feel about education. What I immediately thought afterwards was, "Cooking is sexy. Education is not." Yet, I didn't want to focus on that. I wanted to focus on what were the transferable skills I could learn from this episode...I learned a lot.
Tosi grew up as a picky eater with what she describes as a “crazy sweet tooth.” Her parents held her to high standards, expecting A’s in school and nothing less. After studying hard and graduating from college with high marks, Tosi decided she didn’t want a standard nine-to-five job, so she moved to New York City — having never visited — with dreams of becoming a pastry chef. This didn’t sit well with her mom, who thought of baking as something to do in your free time, not as a profession.
Tosi bounced around restaurant kitchens for about a decade before she ended up working for Wylie Dufresne at his heralded restaurant wd~50. This is where she came up with “crack pie,” which is now a Milk Bar staple. She whipped it up for a family meal with the limited ingredients she had on hand one Sunday, and the exuberant reactions from the kitchen staff inspired her to make it a regular family meal dessert.
Tosi had been working at wd~50 for a couple of years before she connected with David Chang, at Dufresne’s suggestion. She first helped out as a hired hand to get food safety plan at Momofuku Noodle Bar in order. Chang then hired her to help run the business side of things, but he eventually demanded that she make some of those desserts. These treats also wowed the Momofuku team during family meals, and quickly become part of Momofuku’s menu.
In 2008, Chang was working to open Momofuku Ko, his tasting-menu restaurant in NYC, and Tosi was in charge of the dessert. In preparation for opening night, she came up with a cereal milk panna cotta. Chang was blown away. He encouraged her to open an entire concept centered on cereal milk in a vacant space his company had acquired, and Milk Bar was born. There was a line out the door on day one, and business steadily increased from there.
Tosi looks back on her stint at wd~50 as her first opportunity to really make a name for herself in New York’s restaurant scene, but she quickly realized being the pastry chef at a cutting-edge, high-end restaurant was not who she wanted to be. She wanted to make simpler desserts that reminded her of her childhood — cookies, pies, cakes — and her move to Momofuku allowed that dream to become a reality. Christina found herself in what she wanted to make. Christina makes food that is absolutely "her" and I want to teach at a place that allows me to be "me". That "place" I am still waiting to find.
Watch the trailer above.