Tuesday, November 10, 2009

New Video: White House Executive Pastry Chef Bill Yosses, The Crustmaster, On Perfect Pie...And The Pleasure Principle

The Crustmaster reveals his pie secrets...and how to get kids to love their veggies...video, below
While First Lady Michelle Obama is making big-media TV appearances, White House Executive Pastry Chef Bill Yosses is simultaneously appearing on internet videos.
He discussed the creation of Halloween treats on an AP video, and there's a new video out now, with a tour of the pastry-making operation at the White House, and some enlightened commentary (the video is below). The pastry kitchen at the White House is fairly tiny, with tons of activity crammed into a small space, and planning for multiple events for hundreds of people going on constantly. Yosses has just one full-time assistant, Susie Morrison, and she's in the new video, too. Other pastry assistants are brought in on an as-needed basis. (Above: Yosses, with carrots in his toque, while cooking at the Healthy Kids Fair at the White House...)

Despite being in charge of the sugar side of the kitchen, in the new video, Yosses is talking healthy eating, too. Yosses says that Mrs. Obama met with the kitchen staff shortly after the inauguration, and instructed that while desserts are fab, they would not be a daily thing. That's something Mrs. Obama has said in her public remarks, too, noting that dessert should be a treat, not an expectation. It's part of the advocacy for a balanced approach to eating, rather than a strict focus on dieting.

"They [the Obamas] did reassure me that they loved desserts...but they don't want it there for themselves or their children every day," Yosses says in the video.

Yosses, 56, is now the premiere pastry chef in the land, but he's well trained in all aspects of cookery, and was involved with child nutrition education even before the Obamas entered the White House (read his full bio here). He's figured out how to get veggies onto plates:

"Food and diet is about pleasure --yes it's about health, but it has to be pleasurable," Yosses says. "And like for those kids [the Obama daughters] if they don't like it--they won't eat it. But all those vegetables can be made deliciously. It's part of an over all way of looking at food."

President Obama dubbed Yosses "The Crustmaster" early in the administration, and has spoken glowingly about the White House pie, as has Mrs. Obama (she's referred to it as "dangerously good"). In July, when an AP reporter asked President Obama to reveal a secret about the White House, he responded:

"The pastry chef makes the best pie I've ever tasted, and that is causing big problems for Michelle and myself. I mean, whatever pie you like, he will make it, and it will be the best pie you've ever eaten."

Yosses notes that the President prefers Banana Cream pie, and says that "the president focuses on the crust." But he also notes that the Obamas limit their pie consumption to about once a week. And the secret to perfect pie crust, according to Yosses: It's hand-mixed, to avoid overworking the dough, and the bottom crust is pre-baked to keep it from being doughy. For fruit pies, the filling is cooked on the stove, then placed in the cooked pie shell and covered with the rolled-out top dough. The top is then brushed with egg-wash and the whole thing is baked again. The President loves Yosses's pies so much, in fact, that they were served at one of his White House birthday celebrations, in August.

Yosses shares the recipe for White House Apple Pie here. The recipe for Yosses' White House Berry Cobbler is here. Photo by Obama Foodorama.

The video: