Cookbooks and cake

Christina Tosi Is All About Cake

Christina Tosi is a pastry force to be reckoned with—the two-time James Beard Award winning pastry chef and graduate of our Professional Pastry Arts program is known for pastry confections that seemingly break all the rules! While the Milk Bar co-founder, MasterChef guest judge, and featured chef of Netflix’s Chef’s Table: Pastry juggles an already busy schedule, she has still found time to author three deliciously inspiring cookbooks—Momofuku Milk Bar, Milk Bar Life: Recipes and Stories, and Milk Bar: All About Cake.Christina Tosi

This month, ICC welcomed Christina back to her alma matter for a discussion about the inspiration behind her latest cookbook, Milk Bar: All About Cake, and how she’s developed as an author and pastry chef. While Christina’s built a business known for their creative cakes, growing up, she actually didn’t love cake. She found it to be boring and almost always following the same old formula, spongy bases of barely-there flavor topped with too-sweet frosting. After years of experimenting in the Milk Bar kitchen—and recently opening her 15th store—Christina has built a brand embracing the fantastic potential of cake, establishing that cake can (and should!) have personality, integrity, texture and visual appeal!

All About CakeThese four characteristics that cake should have are the basis of Christina’s ground rules for cake. In writing her third cookbook, Milk Bar: All About Cake, and developing her love for cake, she found that as long as cake had personality, integrity, texture and visual appeal, you could be on your way to making something delicious. Read below to find out what Christina shared in the discussion about her life and latest cookbook!

The cake must have a strong point of view, a flavor "story."

Every chef has a story, and Christina’s involves taking a leap to move to New York City, having only visited for a day once before. After studying to become an electrical engineer, she realized that what she really wanted was to bake cookies for the rest of her life. So, she sought to get an education to learn how to do just that!

In researching culinary schools, Christina shared that she “…wanted to go to the best culinary school, the most intense culinary school, that was going to put me into the wild, wonderful world of becoming a pastry chef, and there was only one place, and it was here (ICC).”Christina at the discussion

She then used ICC’s job board, what she calls her “greatest resource” at the time, to find internships and jobs that would allow her to work her way through the culinary industry. She was curious about every aspect of the industry and wanted to find her place in the food world, eventually working with two other ICC alumni, Wylie Dufresne and David Chang, which led her to open Milk Bar in 2008.

Every single layer must be amazingly delicious on its own.

Adjusting to life in New York City and attending pastry school came easy enough for Christina, as it does for many of our students, because she was so passionate about what she was learning in the kitchens of ICC every day.

Early on in her schooling at ICC, she realized that she would get out of the program what she put into it. She brought everything she could into the classroom and learned how to be proactive, which eventually grew her career into what it is today. For her, it was the difference between being a good cook and a great cook, and Christina shared that she learned that at ICC.

Hidden gems of texture within are key.

Cake TruffleChristina’s biggest piece of advice for those looking to open their own bakeries? Make sure you can sell a lot of what you want to bake to pay your rent! Christina shares that you have to love the uphill climb—every day can bring a new challenge, so it’s important to be able to be flexible and diversify yourself when opening your own bakery.

In the early days of Milk Bar, concerns would revolve around ordering enough butter for the holiday season, storing cookies in their original baking facility on the Lower East Side, and whether or not there was enough oven space to fulfill orders. Although these are still concerns of the business 10 years later, now conversations about quality control and hiring become more prevalent for the Milk Bar team as they expand across the continent. Christina explains that your business needs and concerns will evolve over the years, but at the end of the day, it is important to stay true to your brand.

...I won't frost the sides of the cake.

During Milk Bar’s early years, and while baking new desserts for David Chang’s Momofuku restaurants, customers would ask “what’s in cereal milk?,” and “can I get the recipe for compost cookies?”  Growing up cooking at home, Christina was raised with the practice of writing, word-for-word, recipes onto index cards.

Today, her cookbooks have become a way to memorialize the memories of Milk Bar and share how she, and her employees, overcame “…everything in the pursuit of doing what you love and bringing it to life.” The pages-long recipes of her famously unfrosted layer cakes don’t leave anything out, just how Christina lives her life.Christina Tosi Peace sign

When you read her three cookbooks, you feel like you’re a part of the Milk Bar family, just how Christina wants it to be. In sharing the ideas, flavor combinations, and passions of what motivates her team, she wants readers to see inside the unfrosted layers of a Milk Bar cakes, and go on to create something of their own that’s unique to themselves.

One last piece of advice for those looking to write their own cookbook—publishers look for someone with an audience who is interested, but most importantly, they look for individuality. Christina remarked that the world of cookbooks needs more individual flair. So, when you sit down to write the 200+ recipes for your cookbook, think about what makes you unique and make sure you have something to say.

Check out some of our favorite moments from the evening with Christina Tosi below!

Highlights From The Evening

Cherry Bombe 100 influential women

The Cherry Bombe 100: A Celebration of Influential Women

Over the past five years, Cherry Bombe has celebrated women in the culinary world, sharing their stories and building a community of people making the world a better place through food. This year, they introduced The Cherry Bombe 100, a list of the 100 women who inspire the food world through their creativity, energy, humanity and hard work. From chefs and restaurant owners to food activists, writers, entrepreneurs and more, these women are influential to both the culinary industry and the ICC Community!

We’re proud to recognize ICC Culinary Entrepreneurship instructor, Liz Alpern, and nine ICC alumni who made it on The Cherry Bombe 100 list for their incredible work and accomplishments as innovators and thought leaders in the culinary industry. Check out these 10 amazing women below, and see the full Cherry Bombe 100 list here.

 

Liz Alpern
Culinary Entrepreneurship Instructor 

To have chutzpah is to be audacious—and culinary consultant and teacher Liz Alpern is nothing if not audacious. She co-founded The Gefilteria as a way to rethink gefilte fish, a traditional food that few chefs were clamoring to reclaim, and has since grown the company from a single product to one with workshops, pop-up dinners, and a cookbook: The Gefilte Manifesto: New Recipes for Old World Jewish Food. Liz, however, is as much new school as she is old school. She’s also co-founder of Queer Soup Night, a roving fundraising party that celebrates a previously overlooked category of chefs and food enthusiasts.

Ashley Christensen
Ashley Christensen
Sous Vide Intensive ’12

Since making Raleigh, North Carolina, her home, Ashley Christensen has sought to foster community through food, philanthropy and the stimulation of the city’s downtown neighborhood. After working in some of the Triangle’s top kitchens, Ashley opened Poole’s Diner in 2007, one of downtown Raleigh’s first restaurants. In 2011, she opened three new ventures—Beasley’s Chicken + Honey, Chuck’s, and Fox Liquor Bar. In the spring of 2015, her restaurant group introduced Death & Taxes, a restaurant celebrating wood-fire cooking with Southern ingredients, and Bridge Club, a private events loft and cooking classroom. Ashley is an active member of the Southern Foodways Alliance and founded the biannual event Stir the Pot, in which she hosts visiting chefs in Raleigh to raise funds for the SFA’s documentary initiatives.

Angela Garbacz
Angela Garbacz
 Professional Pastry Arts ’08

Angela Garbacz is the owner of Goldenrod Pastries, a boutique pastry shop in Lincoln, Nebraska. In 2008, she moved to New York City to attend the French Culinary Institute (now International Culinary Center), where she earned a degree in Classic French Pastry Arts. During her time there, she worked with top toques in the industry, including Dave Arnold, Jean Georges Vongerichten, Nils Nóren, and Harold McGee. Years later, after learning she had an intolerance to dairy, she decided to chronicle her baking journey, and started the Goldenrod Pastries blog. It was there she reimagined baking for a variety of restricted and alternative diets (dairy-free, gluten-free, vegan). Her recipes, photos and anecdotes quickly gained a large and dedicated following. For a year, Angela was fulfilling catering orders out of her home kitchen while also working in international marketing. Realizing it was time to pursue pastry full-time, she quit her job in 2015 and opened the doors to Goldenrod Pastries where her all-American desserts and pastries feature unique flavor combinations and a strikingly vivid color palette.

Lani Halliday
Lani Halliday
Culinary Entrepreneurship ’18

Lani Halliday is the creative baker behind Brooklyn’s Brutus Bakeshop. She has made a name for herself with her delicious, colorful, gluten-free creations–including her fabulous snake cakes. She has contributed her time and talent to organizations such as Queer Soup Night, the roving fundraising event. She is currently at work on a new concept, Dominga Brooklyn, set to debut next year, and she is currently helping the small businesses impacted by the closing of the Pilotworks incubator program find new workspace and resources.

Angie Mar
Angie Mar
Professional Culinary Arts ’11 

Think all steakhouses are ultra-masculine affairs? Not according to Chef Angie Mar. The Seattle native has run the kitchen at The Beatrice Inn since 2013, then fully reinvented the hallowed spot as owner and executive chef in 2016. The historic, subterranean West Village restaurant, best known in the early aughts as the paparazzi-swarmed after-hours boite of choice for the Olsens, Lindsay Lohan, and Chloe Sevigny, has become an impressive shrine to meat matters, where Angie showcases whole animal butchery, live fire cooking, and dry aging prowess. Before The Beatrice Inn, Angie cooked at multiple NYC carnivore’s havens, like Marlow & Sons, Diner, and Reynard, plus The Spotted Pig. Angie proves superb steak certainly isn’t—and shouldn’t be—a bro-y boys’ club.

Camilla Marcus
Camilla Marcus
Professional Culinary Arts ’08

Camilla Marcus has one of the most modern minds in the restaurant world today. She helped bring to life some of New York’s most beloved neighborhood restaurants, including dell’anima, Riverpark, and the reopened Union Square Café, but it’s with the launch of west-bourne that her passions fully come together. An accidentally vegetarian and decidedly wholesome concept, west-bourne brings people together to eat well and do good, which means a business model that incorporates youth job training, an emphasis on organic and local produce, and a zero-waste approach to benefit the planet and its people. Camilla is also co-founder of TechTable, a hospitality technology thought leadership platform, and a partner in Pound for Pound Consulting, a boutique strategic and creative agency for hospitality-related initiatives.

Klancy Miller
Klancy Miller
The Craft of Food Writing ’04

Klancy Miller is the author of Cooking Solo: The Fun of Cooking For Yourself. She is a writer and pastry chef and earned her diplôme de pâtisserie from Le Cordon Bleu Paris, and apprenticed at the Michelin-starred restaurant Taillevent. She has appeared in The New York Times Food section and on Food Network’s Recipe for Success and Cooking Channel’s Unique Sweets. She has contributed to Cherry Bombe, Bon Appétit, Food 52 and The Washington Post. Klancy is a co-founder of the cookbook club at The Wing and an advisory board member for Equity at The Table (EATT).

Grace Ramirez
Grace Ramirez
Professional Culinary Arts ’11

Grace Ramirez is the tenacious chef, author, and TV personality born in Venezuela and raised in Miami. Her gorgeous cookbook, La Latina: A Cook’s Journey Through Latin America, is a celebration of and love letter to her culture. When her proposal for a book about Latin food was rejected, Grace worked around the system and found a way to get La Latina published. She also hustled to get her TV career off the ground and today hosts Destino Con Sabor on the Food Network. Grace actively supports numerous relief efforts throughout the world for Mexico, Puerto Rico and Venezuela, working with World Central Kitchen, El Plato Caliente, Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos, and many others. Her drive, passion and humanitarian efforts were recognized with a Distinguished Latina Star award from the Puerto Rican Bar Association.

Avery Ruzicka
Avery Ruzicka
Art of International Bread Baking ’11

Avery Ruzicka believes in milling your own flour, a long fermentation process, and the power of freshly baked bread. She is the baker and co-owner of Manresa Bread, the spinoff of the popular Manresa restaurant in Los Gatos, California. She started working at the restaurant as a runner, but longed to be in the kitchen. Once there, she felt a restaurant of Manresa’s caliber should be making its own bread, and was given the go-ahead to start baking. Today, there are two Manresa Bread brick-and-mortar locations and stands at the Palo Alto and Campbell farmers’ markets. Avery fans will be thrilled to know an all-day bakery and cafe will open soon in Campbell, giving them another way to get the Manresa Bread delights, which include the signature Levain, hand-rolled Croissants, Whole Grain Salted Caramel Sourdough Donuts, Triple Chocolate Orange Panettone, Chocolate Babka, and more.

Christina Tosi
Christina Tosi
Professional Pastry Arts ’04

Superstar pastry chef and Milk Bar founder Christina Tosi single-handedly changed the way we look at dessert. She brought modernity and creativity to the category with her unique baked goods, including Compost Cookies and Crack Pie. She elevated soft serve from simple summer treat to something chef-worthy. And we have her to thank for the naked cake trend: she wanted to leave the outside of cakes unfrosted so we could see what was inside. Her third book, All About Cake, is out this month, and she was the subject of a recent Chef’s Table documentary so sincere it moved many of her fans to tears.

ICC Distinguished Alumni Christina Tosi, Bobby Flay, David Chang and Dan Barber

Culinary Spotlight: ICC’s Trailblazing Alumni

International Culinary Center’s more than 15,000 alumni are making headlines around the globe in cities big and small, working in virtually every facet of the culinary industry, including restaurants, management, catering, food styling, business, TV, publishing and more. Some of our trailblazing alumni include pastry innovator Christina Tosi, Emmy Award-winning celebrity chef Bobby Flay, restaurateur David Chang and farm-to-table activist Dan Barber.

Christina Tosi: Chef, Owner and Founder of Milk Bar

You may know ICC Pastry Arts alumna Christina Tosi as one of the newest judges on Fox’s MasterChef and MasterChef Juniors, but this rising star has been making waves in the culinary industry since graduating from the International Culinary Center in 2004.

 ICC Pastry Arts Alumna Christina Tosi

When restaurateur (and fellow ICC alumnus) David Chang hired Tosi to write the food safety plan for his restaurant Momofuku, Tosi impressed Chang so much that he ended up hiring her as his pastry chef. At the time, there were no desserts on the Momofuku menu—something Tosi would soon address by founding Momofuku Milk Bar in 2008.

Named “one of the most exciting bakeries in the country” by Bon Appétit magazine, Milk Bar is the sister bakery to the Momofuku restaurant group and provides baked goods for six retail locations (with another opening soon) as well as other restaurants in the Momofuku group. As the founder of Momofuku’s dessert program, Tosi helped Momofuku Ko earn two stars from the Michelin Guide and Momofuku Ssäm break into Restaurant Magazine’s list of the top 100 restaurants in the world.

In 2012, Tosi received the James Beard Rising Star Chef award, and she was a finalist for the James Beard Outstanding Pastry Chef award in 2014—an award she went on to win in 2015. In addition to being an award-winning professional chef and television personality, Tosi is also a published cookbook author. Her first book, Momofuku Milk Bar, was met with widespread praise and paved the way for her second book, Milk Bar Life.

Tosi and Milk Bar have been featured on television shows and in publications around the world, including The Today Show, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, Good Morning America, Conan, The New York Times, Vogue, Wall Street Journal and Forbes.

Bobby Flay: Chef, Restaurateur and Television Personality

“Every day I cook in my restaurants, I’m using techniques that I learned at ICC. Every day. And I always will for the rest of my life.” – Bobby Flay

 ICC Culinary Arts Alumnus Bobby Flay

Celebrity chef and serial restaurateur Bobby Flay graduated from ICC’s very first class in 1984. Since then, Flay has gone on to open multiple restaurants (including Mesa Grill, Bar Americain, Bobby Flay Steak, Gato and Bobby’s Burger Palace) and appear on countless cooking programs and specials on Food Network and Cooking Channel, including:

  • Beat Bobby Flay
  • Bobby’s Dinner Battle
  • Boy Meets Grill
  • Brunch at Bobby’s
  • Emeril Live
  • Grill It! With Bobby Flay
  • Iron Chef America
  • The Best Thing I Ever Ate
  • The Main Ingredient with Bobby Flay
  • The Next Food Network Star
  • Throwdown! With Bobby Flay

Flay has won three Emmys for his shows Boy Meets Grill, Grill It! With Bobby Flay and Bobby Flay’s Barbecue Addiction. In June 2105, Flay became the first chef to earn a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

The accolades don’t stop there. In addition to multiple Emmy wins and nominations, Bobby Flay was named the James Beard Foundation’s Rising Star Chef of the Year in 1993 and received the James Beard Foundation’s National Television Food Show Award in 2005. In 2007, Flay was featured in the James Beard Foundation’s Who’s Who of Food & Beverage in America, and he went on to be inducted into the Culinary Hall of Fame in 2013.

David Chang: Restaurateur, Author and Television Personality

“One of the biggest pros that the International Culinary Center has is its network of alumni and restaurants.” – David Chang

 ICC Culinary Arts Alumnus David Chang

Restaurateur and innovator David Chang is perhaps best known as the founder of the Momofuku restaurant group, which includes the NYC-based Momofuku Noodle Bar, Momofuku Ssäm Bar, Momofuku Ko, Momofuku Milk Bar and Má Pêche, as well as restaurants in Australia and Canada.

A best-selling cookbook author, Chang also publishes a quarterly food magazine called Lucky Peach, which he created with former New York Times writer Peter Meehan. Contributors to the publication include Anthony Bourdain, Christina Tosi, Wylie Dufresne, Ruth Reichl, Harold McGee and Daniel Patterson. When he’s not opening restaurants or publishing books, Chang appears on television programs such as HBO’s Treme, Top Chef: All Stars, MasterChef Australia, and the 16-part PBS series The Mind of a Chef.

Since graduation from ICC’s Culinary Arts program in 2001, Chang has won multiple awards and accolades, including maintaining 2 Michelin Stars for Momofuku Ko:

  • 2009-2015 Two Michelin Stars for Momofuku Ko
  • 2013 James Beard Outstanding Chef
  • 2010 Named one of the world’s most influential people by Time Magazine in the Time 100
  • 2009 James Beard Best New Restaurant for Momofuku Ko
  • 2008 James Beard Best Chef New York City for Momofuku Ssäm Bar
  • 2007 James Beard Rising Star Chef of the Year
  • 2007 Bon Appétit Chef of the Year
  • 2006 Food & Wine Best New Chef

Dan Barber: Executive Chef and Co-Owner of Blue Hill and Blue Hill at Stone Barns

ICC Culinary Arts graduate Dan Barber has always been an advocate for sustainable agriculture and the connection between farm and table. His writings on food sustainability, agricultural policy and the farm-to-table movement have been featured in The New York Times, Food & Wine and Saveur, among other publications. Appointed to the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition by President Barack Obama, Barber has worked tirelessly to raise awareness about the effects of everyday food choices.

 ICC Culinary Arts Alumnus Dan Barber

Barber’s views on the connection between local, sustainable farm systems and great tasting food come to life at his Blue Hill restaurants. Blue Hill New York and Blue Hill at Stone Barns feature local food and wine selections whose ingredients come from local farms that respect timeless artisanal techniques (including Blue Hill Farm and Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture). Both Blue Hill restaurants have received the James Beard Award for Outstanding Restaurant in the U.S.

In 2002, Barber was named one of the “Best New Chefs” by Food & Wine magazine. He also received the James Beard Best New Chef: New York City award in 2006 and the Outstanding Chef award in 2009. Time Magazine named Barber as one of the world’s most influential people in the Time 100 in 2009.

Barber went on to partner with International Culinary Center to create the Farm-To-Table extension of their Professional Culinary Arts program. ICC’s Professional Culinary Arts + Farm-To-Table program builds upon students’ foundational chef training by connecting it to the beginning of the food chain. By exploring how food is grown, raised, packaged and distributed, students gain a better understanding of how quality ingredients make it to the kitchen and are equipped to make informed choices for their own dishes.

A loyal ICC alumnus, Barber also likes to hire ICC graduates for his own food businesses.

Join ICC’s Trailblazing Alumni Today

The road to success begins with a first-rate education from a world-class culinary school. The International Culinary Center’s award-winning Total Immersion curriculum and intensive, fast-track programs prepare graduates with the skills and credentials they need to forge their own path in the culinary industry. And with more than 15,000 alumni making headlines in nearly every facet of the culinary industry, ICC is well-connected and will work with you throughout your career. To learn more about how ICC can help put you on the path to professional success, please complete the form on this page.