Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Exec. Pastry Chef Bill Yosses Named To James Beard Foundation's 'Who's Who' List

Assistant Chef Sam Kass celebrates with Yosses and many former White House guest chefs at glam New York gala...
White House Executive Pastry Chef Bill Yosses was inducted into the James Beard Foundation's hall of fame on Monday night during a glam awards gala in New York City.  One of the nation's most acclaimed pastry masters, Yosses has served President Obama and First Lady Obama at the White House since the beginning of the Administration, and he was named to JBF's heady list of 'Who's Who of Food and Beverage in America. (Above, at the White House)

As he accepted the honor, Yosses was cheered on by Assistant Chef and Let's Move! Executive Director Sam Kass during the film-themed extravaganza at Lincoln Center.  The award recognizes culinary professionals who have "made a significant and unique contribution to the American food and beverage industry," and "displayed remarkable talent and achievement."  

The President's favorite pie maker has had a thirty-plus year career that's included leading the pastry shops at some of the nation's best restaurants and child nutrition activism, and he is the author of two cookbooks, including The Perfect Finish, published in 2010.

"As pastry chef for the White House, Yosses has been closely involved with Mrs. Obama's 'Let's Move' initiative with the goal of reducing childhood health problems related to diet.  He conducts bi-weekly tours of the White House vegetable garden for school groups," noted the Beard Foundation in its award announcement.*  

"Additionally, Yosses has given lectures on Science and Cooking in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences at Harvard University, where he was instrumental in building a program in conjunction with Chop Chop magazine, 'Camp Chop Chop,' in which healthy foods and innovative exercise are used to introduce scientific concepts to 4th and 5th graders," the Foundation noted.

The Foundation named Chop Chop, a magazine devoted to kids' cooking, as its 'Publication of the Year' during a ceremony on Friday night; the White House chefs, including Yosses, have been featured in two cover stories.  

After Monday's ceremony, Yosses was spotted at an LGBT-themed after-party at The Out NYC, hosted by DC chef Art Smith, who has been a guest chef at the White House.  Yosses was newly returned from Ireland, where he was a featured speaker at Ballymaloe Literary Festival.  Check the sidebar for his recipes.
There were more reunions with former White House guest chefs for Kass and Yosses at the food-filled extravaganza:  Since 2009, more than 19 Beard honorees have cooked for the Obamas.  Chef Paul Kahan, Kass' old boss when he was a young cook in Chicago, was named Outstanding Chef 2013 for his restaurant Blackbird.  Before going to work for the Obamas, Kass cooked at Kahan's 312 and Avec restaurants.  (Above, Kass holds up Kahan's medal at the gala)

"Sam Katz and ole boy celebrating!" Kahan wrote (sic) on Twitter with the photo above.

Kahan visited the White House in 2010 for Mrs. Obama's giant launch ceremony for Chefs Move to Schools, and last year, he was tapped to prepare the three-course menu for Mrs. Obama's luncheon for NATO spouses, held in Chicago at the Gary Comer Youth Center.

Kahan shared his honor with chef David Chang (Momofuku Noodle Bar, NYC), the third tie in the Foundation's history.

Kass also rubbed elbows with Ted Allen, host of Food Network's competition cooking show Chopped.  Kass was a guest judge on the show last year during an episode that featured four school lunch chefs in a culinary showdown.  (Above, Allen, left with Kass)

"Chicago in the Beard Hizzouse! With Sam Kass, Steve Dolinsky, and Mary Wagstaff!" Allen wrote on Facebook with the photo above.

New York chef Dan Barber won the Foundation's top restaurant award this year for his Blue Hill restaurant in New York City, where the President and Mrs. Obama had a date night dinner in 2009.  Barber has cooked special luncheons twice for Mrs. Obama at his Blue Hill at Stone Barns, located in Pocantico Hills, NY.  Named as the Foundation's Outstanding Chef in 2009, Barber is the only chef who serves as a member of the President's Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition.  

"I feel like the luckiest chef in America today," Barber said as he accepted his award.

This year's theme for the gala was "Lights, Camera, Taste!" and actor Oliver Platt was emcee.  Also named to the Who's Who list with Yosses were chef/restaurateur Zarela Martinez, chef/restaurateur Michael Mina, author/journalist Eric Asimov, editor Dorothy Kalins, and chef/restaurateur Barbara Lynch.

*The full 2013 winners list.

*Note: All Kitchen Garden tours were canceled as of March 8th due to sequester budget cuts

*Top photo by Eddie Gehman Kohan/Obama Foodorama; second via Paul kahan; third via Ted Allen