Apr 02, 2019
Q & A with Christina Tosi - Chef/Owner of Milk Bar
We talked to Christina Tosi about her experiences as a chef and being a successful business owner.
Q: What about being a chef gives you the most pleasure?
A: The thing that gives me the most pleasure as a chef is feeding people. It's that simple. There is a selfishness to being a chef — I love to eat. There is a creative part of being a chef — I love to let my imagination run wild in the kitchen. But at the end of the day, the thing that brings me the greatest joy is feeding people, plain and simple.
Q: What’s the secret to being a successful baker?
A: You kind of have this mad scientist part of yourself where you're constantly tweaking and tinkering. And even though you have a recipe that you know tastes great, I think it's that pursuit of wanting to do better and get better every single day. It’s like part of the DNA of a great restaurateur or food service operator. You have to have that part of it built in you, I think, to be successful.
Q: What are your thoughts on growing a bakery business?
A. If you’ve got a good thing going, chances are, what you first built needs to grow because the demand has grown. At least, that was the case for me at Milk Bar 10 years ago. I think about growing very simply in terms of bottlenecks. So, looking at our kitchen, looking at our prep list and asking: What step of the process is slowing us down? And though some of it is human, a lot of it is typically based on equipment and equipment sizing.
It’s all about tinkering with ingredients and the scale and ratio of things to figure out how you can achieve a larger scale batch of whatever it is that's on highest demand at the counter — and finding the right type of equipment that can scale with you.
Q: Talk about equipment. You’ve been a long time Hobart user. Why?
A. Hobart mixers are great because they typically have scale in mind as well. A certain mixer can fit a variety of different size bowls to help you achieve what you're going for. That basically points to the fact that you're investing in a mixer, but you're also investing in an R&D team behind the scenes at Hobart that's constantly looking at and asking us at Milk Bar: What can we do to improve it? What’s missing? Do you know about this technology?
In any restaurant or kitchen I've ever worked in the mixer was called ‘the Hobart.’ That was what it was referred to; it was its name. At Milk Bar, we have so many Hobart mixers that they each get their own name, from Beyonce to Lil' Kim to all The Three Stooges. I think that, in and of itself, tells you how strong and how powerful and how mighty and how dependable these mixers are.
You basically get a partnership with Hobart every time you buy a mixer, and I think that's an incredibly solid foundation to build your business on when you're first opening a bakery.