We sat down with Christina Tosi, the mastermind behind Milk Bar, to discuss what she thinks is the most underrated item at her shop, whether or not she plans on opening a store in Miami, and where she likes to dine in the Magic City.
"I had a very sweet tooth early on," says New York’s undisputed queen of pastry, Christina Tosi, whose Milk Bar churns out highly addictive sweets, including their cake truffles, cookies, crack pies, and cereal milk ice cream. While you can get her saccharine treats delivered right to your door from anywhere in the country, there’s nothing like enjoying it straight from the source—this is why we can't wait to head to Palm Beach Wine and Food Festival (December 10-13), where Tosi will be doing what she does best: making desserts.
Here, we caught up with the pastry chef to talk about why she thinks her desserts took off the way they did, which items she hopes more people will try at Milk Bar, and where she always dines when she's in the Magic City.
What was your relationship with sugar like as a kid?
CHRISTINA TOSI: I had a very strong relationship with dessert growing up. I was a very stubborn picky eater, so dessert made up a large portion of my diet growing up. My poor mother would just let me do it because at some point, food is food.
Your compost cookies and crack pies have revolutionized the dessert world. What’s the short version behind both, and why do you think they became instant hits?
CT: The compost cookie is a really great mix of salty and sweet. The curious things in it always leave you wanting a little bit more—[there's] authenticity, sensibility, and a sense of humor to it which is why it’s so well-received. You get it when you hear the name, you get it when you eat it, and it teases you and taunts you a little bit so that you are always left wanting a little bit more. The crack pie, funnily enough, was based on reading an old cookbook talking about how pie became what it is. it’s the same thing: it has a sense of humor, authenticity, it’s deeply rooted in classic baking traditions, but it’s also easily understood by any generation.
And the cake truffles were a fortunate accident?
CT: We make these beautiful, elaborately layered cakes and had these scraps sitting around. One day, we started rolling them into things and making them into snacks for ourselves. When we were done, we realized that they were pretty good and we should try selling them. That was almost seven years ago that we started doing that.
What would you say is the most underrated item at your shop that doesn’t get the attention it deserves?
CT: The corn cookie. People who love the corn cookie are usually my favorite people because the compost cookie and the cornflake chocolate marshmallow [get a lot more attention]. They’re all delicious cookies but those [who] like the corn cookies are the real fans—that’s how you know someone really knows about Milk Bar.
How would you describe your relationship with business partner and mentor David Chang in three words?
CT: Brother. Confidant. Pusher.
Would you ever consider bringing Milk Bar to Miami?
CT: We’ve considered it many, many times. I love Miami and it will always be on our radar, so hopefully one day. It would be like a dream come true: getting a little suntan and selling a few cookies.
Where do you like to eat when you're in Miami?
CT: My must every time is going to El Mago De Las Fritas. I was in town for a wedding maybe three weeks ago, and drove from Naples to Miami just to eat there. I also love going to Garcia’s Seafood Grille & Fish Market.
You'll also be at Palm Beach Food and Wine Festival this weekend. What do you have planned there?
CT: I’m participating in the Chillin' N' Grillin' event that is happening midday on Saturday. It’s one of my favorites because you get to cook poolside, and you get to really celebrate that Florida living, which New Yorkers dream about come December—and we’ll be making dessert. I’m also going to be a judge that Saturday night selecting the Best Bite of their [Street Food: PB vs NYC] event that’s happening in the evening.
Photography by: photography by danielle kosann