Christina Tosi in Toronto [Photo: Momofuku Milk Bar]
Yesterday, Momofuku Milk Bar's Christina Tosi cake walked with the masses and handed out dulce de leche cakes to the winners. Tomorrow, she is part of the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association show. But, today at 1pm, she hands out 100 free chocolate malt cake truffles to anyone who walks into the Milk Bar in the Financial District. As she adds these new items to the menu, Tosi reminisces with Eater about her first creations for Momofuku, reveals her secretly competitive side, explains why Toronto got the first Milk Bar out of New York, and how she'd pay respect to the city in dessert form.
What were the first pastries you ever created for Momofuku and the Milk Bar? What inspired them?
The first dessert I ever made for Momofuku was the Strawberry Shortcake. My first fried dessert was the Deep Fried Apple Pie (miso butterscotch, sour ice cream). My first baked good I created for Momofuku Milk Bar was the Cornflake-Chocolate-Chip-Marshmallow Cookie (all recipes are available in the Momofuku cookbook).
When I was first in search of inspiration for the dessert menu, I'd look around and ask everyone and anyone what they'd want to eat for dessert after a meal. Nearly everyone responded passionately with a classic dessert or baked good that they grew up with, a food memory they made long before they got into the culinary scene or became a foodie. Pastry chefs are secretly very competitive. Yes, we are the last bite a diner has, but typically by the time dessert comes, the savoury side of the kitchen has already inundated the diners with flavours, textures, and too much food! I loved my savoury counterparts, but I'd be damned if I wasn't going to move hell or high water to make my dessert course the best and MOST memorable course each guest had. I wanted to make something that would excite them, want them to tell all their friends about it.
So I went back to my original search, and decided I'd tap into the classics, the food memories that everyone has, and twist them, turn them, push them further. Rather than compete, find a way to pay homage to the flavours and textures of the classics while breathing new life into them as inspiration. And make them as delicious as humanly possible. The Strawberry Shortcake, the Deep Fried Apple Pie, Cereal Milk-- these are all inspired by the same theory and approach I used on my very first dessert for Momofuku and use every day that comes.
Why was Toronto the first place outside of New York City to get a Milk Bar?
Prior to opening, we had such a great Canadian, and specifically Torontonian base, even in NYC. We have a single, solid team in NYC and, though we wanted to open a shop elsewhere, we wanted to choose a city that knew us, GOT us, supported us, loved food as much as NYC and that was close enough to be able to open up without either NYC or Toronto suffering. We've looked into further away cities, but Toronto was the clear choice!
What baked good would you make that would best symbolize Toronto?
I'd probably make a mash-up of our crack pie (a clear relative of the butter tart) and our maple pecan cookie, with a fried dough/candy beaver tail homage spun in, too!
· Previous coverage: Milk Bar's Christina Tosi 'Cake Walks' To Town