Illustration This is New York by Miroslav Sasek
Christina Tosi is the chef, founder & owner of Momofuku Milk Bar, the sister bakery to the Momofuku restaurant group. Milk Bar consists of a central bakery that produces baked goods daily for five retail outlets in New York City, USA, a sixth location in Toronto, Canada and a seventh location in Washington, DC.
Tosi is also a cookbook author of Momofuku Milk Bar and Milk Bar Life and an amazing teacher, as we can attest from the Bake the Book Class with COOKGIRL enjoyed in October at the Commissary in Brooklyn. Each attendee baked the legendary birthday cake, learning all of the tricks of the trade including the “naked cake” look. Tosi personally hates this description, but somehow everyone gets what it means - no frosting on the sides of the cake so that you can ogle the amazing number of layers.
Christina Tosi is a master of mixing flavor, texture and memory. We all know that we love cereal and she turns the whole notion of dessert on its head by incorporating memories from her own youth. Milk Bar is like being a kid again, with the expertise of a James Beard Award winning Outstanding Pastry Chef to elevate what you think you remember: compost cookies and crack pies anyone?
Tosi is highly energetic, extremely likable, with a sweet-as-pie look mixed in with wit. She is exactly the kind of judge you want to see on a cooking show, which is why she became a judge of MasterChef on FOX beginning with its sixth season and then MasterChef Junior in November 2015.
The Milk Bar team is made up of people who ascribe to Tosi’s “hardbody” work ethic. While she works to balance the work/life ratio (don’t we all?), for her the long days, no excuses, no complaining is energizing and fuels her innovation and creativity. She now oversees more than 60 employees and ships across the US.
Carla Hall is a Nashville native who is best known as a competitor on Bravo’s hit show TOP CHEF and as a co-host of ABC’s popular lifestyle series The Chew. Hall keeps herself busy with her artisan cookie company Carla Hall Bakes, “Petite Cookies”, with each sweet treat containing “petite bites of love”. She shares her philosophy, to always cook with love, in her cookbooks Cooking with Love: Comfort Food That Hugs You and Carla’s Comfort Food: Favorite Dishes from Around the World.
Hall graduated from Howard University’s Business School with an Accounting degree but later changed her career path after traveling through Europe and discovering her passion for food. Upon her return, she began culinary training at L’Academie de Cuisine in Maryland and later served as Executive Chef at both The Washington Club and The State Plaza Hotel.
Hall is a woman with many talents and is continuing to share her southern roots by opening her first restaurant Carla Hall’s Southern Kitchen in Brooklyn, NY - first in the Barclays Center and then at 115 Columbia Street. Two words: HOT CHICKEN! 2016 is proving to be a HUGE year for Hall as it was just announced she will be hosting the 2016 James Beard Awards, honoring the country’s top culinary talent on Monday, May 2, at Lyric Opera of Chicago.
Carla’s food for thought:
“If you’re not in a good mood, the only thing you should make is a reservation.” Hootie Hoo!
Gabrielle Hamilton is the chef and owner of PRUNE, which she opened in NYC’s East Village in October 1999.
Described as “provocative, straight-shooting, intellectual chef” by Eater, Hamilton rocked the publishing world with her New York Times bestseller Blood, Bones & Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef. Beautifully written and thought-provoking, it was cookbook & memoir and one of COOKGIRL's all-time favorites. She followed that up in January 2014 with PRUNE, which was filled with recipes and notes from her Lower East Side NYC restaurant. It is a virtual replica of the kitchen binders and written in Gabrielle’s distinctive voice and amazing recipes: Grilled Head-on Shrimp with Anchovy Butter, Bread Heels and Pan Drippings Salad, Tongue and Octopus with Salsa Verde and Mimosa’d Egg, Roasted Capon on Garlic Crouton, Prune’s famous Bloody Mary….all 10 variations.
She fascinating and has been a reluctant super-star, focusing on her family and her beautiful “idea”, Prune. It is a treat to watch Hamilton in the fourth season of PBS’s Emmy-winning and James Beard Award-winning series The Mind of a Chef, which is produced by Anthony Bourdain. The show looks deeply into a chef’s techniques, inspiration, influences and search for the perfect meal. As Gabrielle describes it, “I’m not so much about the food. I’m more about the narrative around food, and how we got here, and what it means, et cetera.”
Another deeper dive into Gabrielle's background, watch her MAKERS channel. "I definitely consider myself to be a feminist. What does it mean to be a feminist at my age? I spend a great deal of time and energy asking people to ignore my gender. I have benefitted greatly from deep identity politics, but I find that limiting.”
Hamilton was nominated for the James Beard Foundation’s Best Chef NYC in 2009 and 2010. In 2011, she won the category.
After holding a Michelin star at both A Voce (2009) and A Voce Columbus (2010), Missy Robbins has taken time to decide to open Lilia, her restaurant in Williamsburg that will be in a former auto-body shop with sweeping ceilings and windows and a wood burning grill. While she has changed the way that she eats and revamped her personal diet, Robbins is a pasta phenom - from her days a Spiaggia in Chicago to her time at A Voce.
Robbins graduated Georgetown University in 1993, majoring in art history with a minor in psychology before moving to New York in 1994 to attend culinary school at Peter Kump’s New York School of Cooking.
After culinary school, Robbins worked at Arcadia, March, The Lobster Club before a trip to Northern Italy made a huge impact on her cooking style. She returned to work at the Soho Grand Hotel and then moved to Chicago in 2003 as Executive Chef at Spiaggia.
In 2010, Missy was named to the list of BEST NEW CHEFS by Food & Wine Magazine and was a contestant on Top Chef Masters. Sadly she withdrew after the first episode in which she sliced her finger. In 2013, Robbins won the Cochon 555 competition in New York.
The much-anticipated opening of Lilia in WIlliamsburg is soon - follow Lilia on Twitter and Instagram for updates.
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