Video: The Executive Pastry Chef delights a Harvard crowd with White House tales and sugar showmanship...
White House Executive Pastry Chef Bill Yosses wowed a standing-room-only crowd at Harvard University earlier this month with his third annual lecture and demonstration on molecular gastronomy, and the video of his adventure has just been released. The evening talk was an extension of the Science and Engineering School's very popular course on food science, and Yosses demonstrated "How Phase Changes Cause Deliciousness." He dazzled the audience with a discussion of making desserts based on phase transitions, which included explaining why chefs temper chocolate, use crystallization, and rely on gels and foams for modernist cuisine. (Above: Yosses holds a green apple he made from crystallized sugar)
Of course Yosses was asked about President Obama's favorite dessert: It's fruit pie.
"He is on the Congressional Record as really loving pie," Yosses said, but added that "he's not a big dessert eater, nobody in the family is."
"They eat very healthy. But if they do indulge, a great pie, a cobbler, especially when there's great fruits of the season. Like farmer market fruits, peaches, nectarines, apricots."
Yosses said recently that he cuts the pies he makes for the First Family into 8-10 slices, to reduce portion size and calories, so he can serve pies that are made the traditional way, rather than with lighter ingredients. The President has nicknamed Yosses "The Crust Master" thanks to his pies.
An ambassador for First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move! campaign, Yosses devoted the first part of his lecture to the initiative, showing photos on a jumbo screen of Mrs. Obama at work, including during her visit to London for the 2012 Summer Olympics and hopsacking through the halls of the White House with Jimmy Fallon. Of course there was also much attention paid to the White House Kitchen Garden, where Yosses leads volunteers in harvesting crops each Tuesday morning in the 1,500 square foot plot on the South Lawn.
After Mrs. Obama moved into the White House, Yosses said, "she called all the chefs into a meeting and said I would like you to help make food and healthy eating the most important thing we talk about."
The Kitchen Garden, Yosses said, has become a powerful teaching tool for children.
"It is a great symbol of community and how we can eat better," he said. "It doesn't hurt adults, either."
Yosses also described the first-ever beehive at the White House, where he gets the honey for his desserts. Then it was on to a glam discussion of the incredible desserts he makes for White House events, which include crystallized sugar and loads of themed treats. Using a blowtorch, a fan, and lots of other gear, Yosses demonstrated tempering chocolate and made a green apple out of crystallized sugar.
He had the crowd laughing with his tale
of a favorite past demo that went awry, when he tried to make a sugar swan that blew up.
"Somebody opened the door and the air pressure changed and it exploded," Yosses said.
Check the sidebar of the blog for all of Yosses' White House recipes, including for Apple Pie and Huckleberry Pie.
*Video courtesy of Harvard School of Science and Engineering