Chef's Table (2015–…): Season 4, Episode 1 - Christina Tosi - full transcript

Chef Christina Tosi talks about her life, her career and her inspiration, which lead her to running a successful New York pastry franchise.

[woman] Let's be honest.

You're not going for a cookie
for sustenance.

You're going for a cookie
for the beauty of indulgence,

for the spirit of just letting free
and being like,

"I know maybe this cookie isn't the thing

that's gonna round out my diet
for the day,

but it's what's gonna bring me joy...

and remind me that life's too short

to worry about how many cookies
I ate today."

And so I started asking myself
this question,

"What is it that you can do every
single day for the rest of your life?"

And I was like,

"Make cookies."

[opening theme playing]

Christina Tosi is this force of nature.

She puts on her headband
and she's like a superhero.

[woman 2] Christina created
this insane pop culture phenomenon.

Milk Bar is a bakery empire.

It changed the way people eat desserts
on a daily basis.

[woman 3] I mean, where in the world
did a cornflake cookie exist?

Where in the world did a truffle ball or--

What is that? And can you finish it?
Or crack pie? I mean, come on.

It was something your mom might make,

but made by someone that was, like,
a superstar pastry chef.

She's someone that understands nostalgia

and someone that wants
to destroy nostalgia simultaneously.

[Courtney] She's worked for some
of the best chefs in the world,

but she's also so very lowbrow at heart.

She's very much a junk food junkie.

And so she just put the food
that she loves into her desserts.

I remember one day buying her a box
of Take5 candy bars.

Like, and I challenged her,
"How many can you eat in a week?"

She ate the whole damn box.

Sometimes, she would just come in
with raw cookie dough.

I was like, "Who makes raw cookie dough
just to snack on?"

And then we'd joke, like,
"You're gonna get diabetes." [chuckles]

This is not food that you can eat a lot
and feel good ever.

But there's something about Christina's
baking that just overrides my off switch.

I can't stop eating it.

Christina is a uniquely American chef.

She's not trying to be French.
She's not running off to Japan.

She is America.

And America's delicious.


I mean, caramel and apple every time.

-[Christina] Thank you.
-[girl] Yes! What is that? Mama.

That's a very generous serving of bacon.

I was a very picky eater,
growing up as a kid.

I liked the standards like mac and cheese,

hot dogs, cereal,
all times of the day and night.

May I have a deep-fried Snickers bar,
deep-fried Oreos, deep-fried Twinkies?

No judgment. [laughs]

Wait, also deep-fried
chocolate chip cookie dough.

And I had a crazy sweet tooth.

Like ice cream, cookie dough,

anything out of the oven,
baked, with sugar on top was mine.


I ate these very, very American desserts

like apple pie and soft-serve ice cream.

Like Dairy Queen.

It was the thing that,
no matter what was going on in life,

if you drove by it,
you were gonna stop and get it.

Oh, look at that. That's gonna be ours.

It just brings joy and happiness
to people.

And it makes that moment in life,

that tiny, little snapshot in life
a little sweeter.

[man] You'll be able to handle
all that, Charlie?

-Oh, yeah. [chuckles]
-It looks pretty epic!

-Thank you.
-You're welcome.

[woman laughs]

[Christina] I think the world
is more often your oyster

when you approach it
with more of a childlike sensibility.

Wait, what are you gonna win?

The world is a more curious place.
It's a more beautiful place.

-[Christina] Soft.
-[woman] Like this.

-There, yeah! Like that!

It's not always sunshine and rainbows,

within any given day in life,
there should always be a moment

where the weight of the world is just
a little bit lighter on your shoulders.


You know, this recipe was such a favorite
of my dad's, right?

Because your great-grandpa, my grandpa,
had an apple orchard.

-This was during the Depression.
-[Christina] Yeah.

The bad ones, they call them "drops,"

when they fall on the ground,
and they're bruised,

and you really can't sell those, right?

So, instead,
my grandma would take the apples

and bring 'em in and either make
applesauce or apple dumplings.

Grandma used to even save the peels
and make applesauce with them.

[Christina] Oof.

[woman] She was gonna make sure
nothing went to waste, you know?

[Christina] You know it.

My mom's mom, my joke with her

was that I could make the same
exact recipe standing next to her,

and somehow hers always tasted better.

But I think that's the beauty of...

what nurturing and love and care
through food tastes like,

whether it's mental or emotional,
or truly scientific in your taste buds.

They always tasted better
when she made them.

My grandmas, my aunts, my mom,
they all baked.

Baked every day, never anything fancy.

Baking to always have a fresh-baked good,
or baking to give someone,

or to bring when you go out,
that was just the way it was in life.

[woman] I guess, in some respects,
you would say

she's been doing it all of her life.
From a child.

She wasn't one to want a pony
or anything of that nature.

She wanted an Easy-Bake Oven, and I said:

[scoffs] "We are not spending money
on an Easy-Bake Oven.

We have a real oven in the kitchen.

Come on.
We're going to the kitchen, kiddo."

-Okay, sweet pea.
-[Christina] I love you.

Come right up there. Okay.

[Christina] It's just what happens in life
and in home life in my family.

And these women that have
this incredible power and influence,

I just thought they were
the coolest women in the world.

[all chattering indistinctly]

Oh, you got it.

We're not just eating
all these things ourselves.

We're baking so we can go out
and give them to someone.

I love baking
'cause it reminds me of my grandmas.

It makes me feel like I'm a kid
trying to sneak cookie dough

when they're not looking,

and it makes me feel like I'm with them
and that I'm one of them.

Wow, nice. Oh, you can just smell cinnamon
in the air, can't you?

-Mmm, I had one before. They're great!
-[Greta] Aren't those great?

[girl] I think we should add
a little more sugar.

[Christina] I'm raised by women that are
hyper-positive and they love to please.

Like, "Oh, my God, it's your birthday.

We're gonna celebrate you until your face
is red and you wanna go hide in a corner."

Whatever little celebration it was,
like,"I wanna make you a cake."

But I never really thought much of cake.

Cake is the thing that you're raised
as a child in America to be,

like, the most exciting,
most celebratory dessert you can have,

and... "This is okay."

It's spongy.

It usually doesn't have that much flavor,
it's usually a little dry,

there's not a lot of texture.

Just like a world of missed opportunities.

I knew I needed to define
my own relationship with cake.

And that cake could be
a lot better than what it was.

Also, from being in culinary school,

around all of these insane masters
of beauty and perfection

when it comes to finishing a cake...

They had tired me out completely
to the point where I was like,

"I don’t think cake should be frosted."

I've seen how obsessed you can get
with frosting a cake,

and that time should be spent elsewhere.

That time should be spent
in the actual layers of cake

or frostings or fillings
or whatever it is,

but it shouldn't be spent on a turntable

trying to make the perfect,
perfect, perfect frosted cake.

For what?

We're not in pottery class.

There's a world of flavors,
there's a world of texture.

Cake should be delivering more than that.

And when I start to think

about all of these different moments
and decisions and time and work

put into making the most delicious cake

and cake soak and frosting
and crumb and filling...

why would I cover it up?

It is that dollhouse moment
of looking in and being like,

"I wanna see the world of amazing things
that's happening on the inside."

The little intricacies of how I'm thinking
about your perfect bite of layer cake.

So we don't frost the sides of the cake.
That's my diatribe on cake.

Are you gonna help me pour the milk?

Oh, oh, oh, oh.

My mom was an accountant. My dad worked
at the Department of Agriculture.

They were both professionals. They both
had the same job for their entire life.

And they raised me to be
a very studied, steady person.

If you brought home
anything less than an A,

folks would be like, "Hey, girlfriend,
what's going on? That's not okay."

"Tosis don't get any less than an A"
sort of thing.


-Nice job.

There was this turning point
nearing graduating college

where I started to realize, like,

"Wait a second.
Where is this actually gonna get me?

Where do I direct
this overachieving mentality?

Because if I'm not careful,
it's kind of gonna be directed nowhere."

And then it becomes this sad, silly thing,
where you're like,

"What have I been doing
my whole life getting A's?

Where is that gonna take me?"

I'm about to be a grown-up.

I don’t want to suit up
and go to work every day.

I knew deep down inside of me
that I'd die, I'd suffocate.

And so I started asking myself,

"What is the thing that's gonna get you up
in the morning and excited?"

And it was baking.

And if I could do that for a living,
like, that's me.

That would be my dream.

I always felt New York City
was this energetic, amazing place

where anything is possible.

That really helped form this idea of like,

"I'm gonna move to New York
and be a pastry chef."

My mom had a hard time with it.

Baking was something that you did
every day in your free time

once you were done with regular work.

She just couldn't fathom, like,

"How could something so menial
drive someone so greatly?"

And I said, "I know that you worked
your butt off for me to have this life,

and I don't want it.

I wanna do something over here."

I think I knew that
that was a little heartbreaking.

But I just knew that I was gonna go,
and so I went.

I moved to New York.
I had never been there before.

I had my résumé,
which listed very few things.

And I just hit the pavement.

I was living my dream.

And I had my Zagat book,
which was really the only caliber

of what a great restaurant
in New York City was back then.

And I had dog-eared all of the restaurants
that had any sort of reputation.

I just needed a job
and I wanted it to be in a restaurant.

I knew, once I got my foot in the door,

I could work harder and longer than
anyone else to get where I needed to go.

I'm going to culinary school by day
and working by night.

And I fell in love with restaurant life.

After a year, I finally got a job
at a restaurant called Bouley.

Four star, New York Times,

one of the three or four great restaurants
in New York City at the time.

[Christine] Christina went to
French Culinary Institute.

She worked at Bouley,
which was a very big deal.

She did the work.

She's so light and easy.

It distracts you from just how incredibly
ambitious and hardworking she is.

[Christina] I just, like a locomotive,
would keep going.

Just, like, pale, bags under my eyes,
and blissfully in love with this pursuit.

I didn't stop
to really consider much at all.

I probably worked in basements
of New York City for over a decade

before anything that anyone cares about
in my life actually happened.

When you are in it
for your first five, ten years,

your only job
is to be someone else's soldier.

No one gave a S-H-I-T about my opinion

until I started working
for Wylie Dufresne.

wd~50 was known for being

this super-duper, fancy-schmancy,
haute-technique restaurant,

and Wylie was its cerebral,
creative, artistic chef.

I had seen what being
a great pastry cook looked like,

but in my head I was like, "I don't wanna
just be a great pastry cook.`

I wanna be the best pastry cook
that this restaurant's ever seen."

In a restaurant, if you wanna show

that you're really serious
about climbing the ranks,

there are things that you just do.

You show up earlier than everyone else
and leave later than everyone else.

And you make something for family meal,

the pre-meal at 4:00 p.m.
before we fed our customers.

I either made brownies or
chocolate chip cookies on the first day.

-This is the best jam we came up with.

Wylie comes into the kitchen
and he says, "Hey, did you make this?"

And he would give me his assessment.

It does have that amazing canned blueberry
that you put into your blueberry pie.

[woman] Yeah.

"What did you do to get it
to be this fudgy in the center?"

Or, "Are you happy with the balance
of chocolate to butter?"

Every day was a day that he pushed me.

So we started this routine where I'd make

a batch of chocolate chip cookies
one day a week,

I'd make a batch of English muffins
one day a week,

and he would critique them with me.

What's hard is the flavor
that you get of the blueberry

in the drum-dried is pretty magical
when you eat it with the milk crumbs.

Yeah. Compared to the freeze-dried.

"These are pretty good.
What do you think about 'em?

Let me tell you what I like
in an English muffin. I like X, Y, and Z."

And he would pick apart
every little part of an English muffin.

I thought that the drum-dried
tasted better, too.

There's something when you...

It's magical. Makes you wanna
close your eyes and take a deep breath.

And it wasn't until I started working
at wd~50

that my curiosity with how food is made
really started to come.

[clicking tongue]

All right.

One Sunday, I came in,
was gonna go make family meal,

and I open our fridge, and there's
not really anything in the fridge.

I became obsessed with reading about pies
from different regions,

and reading about this chess pie,
this American dessert

that they make down south
when they don't really have anything left.

And I loved the idea of it,
'cause it's Sunday, I got nothing,

I need to make a pie
with nothing to make a pie with.

And I decide that I'm gonna make
this buttery, gooey, sugary filling.

I grabbed some freeze-dried corn that we
were making cornbread ice cream with

and I threw that in the filling.

Truth be told,
I kind of didn't really measure anything.

I was just kind of being very spiritual
about the moment,

which is oftentimes what I did
when I baked for family meal,

because the rest of the day
was so precise.

For me, all I wanted to do was be myself,

but I wanted to be myself
in this community of people.

It's your rite of passage with them,
for them to believe that you're talented,

and for them to believe you know
what good food tastes like.

I baked the pie
and the filling never quite set,

but it smelled really good, so I was like,

"All right, I need to pull this pie out.
It's gonna start burning if I don't."

So, I pull it out
and I throw it in the freezer

in hopes that the filling,
the center, will just set thick enough

that I'm not serving
this atrocious, soupy pie.

Like, you can't put that up
for family meal.

And a few minutes into family meal,

I start hearing these noises
in the kitchen.

And one of my buddies is like,

"Did you make that pie
that's up there on the table?"

And I'm like, "Yeah, I know.
It's not perfect, it's not awesome."

He's like, "You gotta go into the kitchen.
People are freaking out right now."

And the rest of these guys,

they're taking a slice
and they're pushing it away from them.

Like, "Do not let me have
any more of that pie."

And this Australian cook was like,
"I don't know what you just did,

but this pie is like crack.
It's crack pie."

It became this underground
wd~50 family meal dessert

that I made on Sundays.

Hey, how are you?

[man] Hi. What can I get you?

May I have an everything bagel
with scallion cream cheese?

You want it toasted?

Uh, not toasted. Um, bacon and tomato.

I was working at wd~50,

and I had been there
for just shy of two years,

and something happened where I had pushed
and pushed and pushed and pushed.

And the only other step I could take
was the step to become the pastry chef,

and I wasn't interested in it.

The dream was to move to New York
to become a pastry chef.

Did I really know what that meant? Um, no.

-[man] Thank you very much.
-[Christina] Thank you.

Going to culinary school, they teach you
the fanciest of French techniques.

In working at Bouley,
there's no cookies there.

That's not a thing.

And I think, when I slowed down,
I realized that being the pastry chef

of an incredibly cutting-edge restaurant
was just not who I was.

I had worked my butt off.

I stayed in New York. I never left.

I missed weddings and birthdays
and births and holidays

and everything for a very long time.

I remember wishing that I had friends
or family that lived in the city.

It's a very solitary life.

Early on, I would fill that loneliness
with work.

But at some point I realized that
that is probably

the most boring, one-dimensional thing
a human being can be,

and that I was becoming that.

At that time,
I was a little bit in a space

of not really knowing
what my next step was.

I was so zoomed in.
I knew I needed to kind of zoom out.

Because I had poked and prodded Wylie

to give me whatever side jobs
that he needed help with,

I had experience
working with the health department.

And, one day, he said,
"My buddy needs some help.

Do you mind going up there
and just sussing it out?

I'm not really sure what's going on."

I basically was put on double
secret probation by the health department.

And I was in hell.

This is when Momofuku was
really flying by the seat of its pants,

and we needed help.

I called Wylie Dufresne, and he's like,
"I have someone that can help you out."

[Christina] I remember going in for lunch
because I wanted to check this guy out.

And Dave was just crushing a cook,

just laying into him
because something wasn't done properly.

A few minutes later, he's pushing everyone
out of the way in the kitchen,

and he's got a mop in one hand
and a bottle of all-purpose cleaner,

spraying down the floor
and mopping the floor vigorously.

He's the one in there,
just grinding it out.

And that's the salt-of-the-earth stuff
that I was raised to be like and for.

I knew that I would do whatever I could
to help this guy out.

[David] I hired her specifically

to get me back into the good graces
of the health department.

She was so great at it.

I was like, "My God, I need someone
to help me in the office.

You're so good at paperwork stuff.
Can you help me out here?"

He took me out to lunch
and offered me a job.

[Christina] How's it looking?

[man] Great. Just doing the final scrape.

So good.

-[woman] Thank you.
-[Christina] Smells delicious.

-Thank you.

Hi. Hi, guys.


-Everything going okay? ¿Todo bien?

The job with Dave
was a different kind of job.

It was becoming a facilities manager,
becoming the director of operations.

I was helping run a business.

So, in a weird way,
my bakingness retreated.

After week two,
Dave realized that he was getting,

maybe, a slightly different version of me.

Dave just straight-up called me out

and was like, "Hey, you used to be
a pastry cook for Wylie.

He tells me all of these things
that you used to do.

Where's my family meal?
Where are my cookies? WTF?"

I go home,
and I just cut to the chase and bake.

And the next day,
I brought in miso crack pie.

She made a sweet miso salty pie.

I tasted it, and I was like, "Who the hell
would make something like this?"

Someone insanely creative,

but also someone
that has a strong personality.

I brought it in and everyone ate it
in two seconds flat.

And once I made that miso crack pie,

I just made dessert and brought it in
every day for family meal.

One day, Dave called me into the office

and he's crushing whatever dessert
I brought in,

and with his mouth full
because when he gets really excited,

he can't wait to share his thought.

He was like, "I don't understand.
Let's just put this on the menu."

But it would be something

that I would be horrified at ever thinking
about putting on a menu.

Those are the things that I would make
for myself, and it wasn't fancy food.

And I was like,
"No, that's not a good idea."

He did this with me every day
for that week.

"How about this?
This one should go on the menu."

I'd be like, "I don't think so.
It's not a thing."

[David] It was maddening for myself
'cause, finally,

I have someone
that obviously loves cooking.

That was the most important thing.
She fucking loves to cook.

She loves it, but she refused to do it.

And I remember, probably it taking
a month or two to being, like,

"I'm sorry, I'm not taking no
for an answer right now.

Your food is gonna be on the menu tonight.

You got like three hours to..." [chuckles]

" produce enough for service.

And you better get started."

[Christina] I had to figure something out,
and I had to figure it out pretty quickly.

So, I decided to just make a super-duper
American strawberry shortcake.

It's rolled in a little
confectioners' sugar,

which is what my grandma would do.

[Christine] You have to understand
Ssäm Bar and Chang at the time.

You'd go in, it was super loud,
there's tons of music,

and the food was sort of the equivalent.

They didn't give a shit.
They had one kind of wine, you know,

and at the end of the meal,
they put down this mochi ice cream,

which was probably from the Trader Joe's
around the corner on 14th Street,

so you're just, like,
"Mmm, here's your dessert. Thanks."

And then one day, there was
this strawberry shortcake on a plate.

It wasn't just a strawberry shortcake.

There were layers of intelligence
with crazy going on,

which was the Ssäm experience.

So she perfectly complemented him.

[David] What dawned on me
very quickly with Christina

was that here was a person that still
needed an outlet to express herself.

That's when I realized,

"Oh, the only way to get her to do it
is just to push her off the cliff."

[Christina] One day, as we were conceiving
how we would build this Momofuku empire,

we had decided to open
a tasting menu-only restaurant,

and so we were building it out.

It's a highly anticipated opening,

and I was gonna be responsible
for making dessert.

There's this bodega in the East Village.
It's open 24/7.

It feels like it has every ingredient
under the sun.

And it's oftentimes where I go
when I'm looking to be inspired.

And so I went back to my pastry arsenal,
I dug deep.

"What's an elegant, easy dessert
to prepare? Panna cotta."

It's flavored milk.
You set it with gelatin.

It's luxurious.
It's elegant if done right.

I can get down with that.

The only thing about panna cotta
is panna cotta is usually pretty boring.

Maybe it's vanilla panna cotta,
maybe it's chocolate.

If it's really elegant, it's lemon.

That was the breadth of flavors
of panna cotta.

But now I'm landed on this one place
to create, which is flavored milk.

And I walk to the cereal aisle.

It's the aisle I know very well
from my childhood.

I think to myself, "There is such a thing
as cereal-flavored milk."

That's like the best part of when
you're done eating all your cereal,

is like the bottom's-up moment
of drinking this flavored milk.

It feels like a dessert that I would make
if I were a teenager.

But I'm in that weird in-between place
of like, I know I'm not a kid.

I want to be taken seriously
through my dessert.

I don't know what I think,
but I grab a box of cornflakes

and I go back to the kitchen
and I start making panna cottas.

I wait for the cornflakes
to steep 20 minutes...

and I wring as much of the milk out
as I can.

I taste a little, and I'm like,
"Okay, this is interesting.

Maybe this is something."

I bring one to Dave.

I don't say anything because I'm worried
if I tell them it's cereal milk,

they're gonna think
it's too cutesy or too lame,

and I don't know
how they're gonna receive it.

And I walk away,
and I go back into the kitchen.

Dave comes running at me

with his eyes wide open and is like,
"What is this?"

And I said, "Well, it's cereal milk."

And he just, "This is it. This is it."

[David] I was like, "Oh, my God!"

When you eat it,
you're immediately at your childhood.

And that was when I tasted something,
I was like, "This is a world-class dish."

And I remember, like,
"Christina, we need to put

whatever the fuck cereal milk is
in everything.

It's that amazing.

I don't know what the fuck you did,

but we need to put it
in everything possible."

Good morning.
How's it going, lovely woman?

-Can I help you with anything?
-[woman] Yes.

[man] It'll be $5.44 for the two coffees.

-Thank you so much.
-Hey, what are you getting today?

[Christina] Dave was like,

"Yo, you need to take this flavor,
and you need to run with it

as far and as quickly as possible,
and people are gonna be chasing you down.

All of the big ice cream brands are gonna
start making cereal milk ice cream,

and they're all gonna try
and bite off your idea,

and you need to figure out
where you wanna be in that space."

[Christina] Going out front.

We were getting a new landlord in
one of our buildings in the East Village,

and we have to take this space

or somebody else is gonna
move in next to Ssäm Bar

and it can be a whole thing for us.

And Dave was like,
"Why don't you take it?"

A small empty cup? You got it.

[woman] Hi.

[David] You bet on the person.

-Have a good one.
-[woman] What can I get for you?

She expressed that she wanted
to spread her wings,

and Tosi needed to get out of the house.

My job is just to give her the freedom
to do what she needs to do.

Dave helped give me permission to be like,

"I don't owe anyone anything,

and I don't actually need
anyone's permission." [chuckles]

A little bit like,
"F the world, it's mine for the taking"

approach to life.

As opposed to all of the other times
in our friendship,

it only took him joking about it once
for me to be like,

"Great, let's do it. Let's do it."

Three weeks before we're
supposed to open the doors to Milk Bar.

I'm baking, making desserts
for the restaurants,

and then in the middle of the night,

trying to scrape paint off a brick wall,
trying to strip a column.

She was scared. We were all scared.

But I think this was the next level
of me forcing Christina off the ledge.

In true form, I needed help.

I mean, I had people
that I hadn't worked with in years

come by at 2:00 a.m. to help sand benches.

It was like this beautifully imperfect
New York family.

For some reason,
what I was doing attracted these people.

I was like, "Holy shit!
All those people came out to help me."

It literally took a village
to get Milk Bar open.

November 15th, 2008. Opening day.

We opened the doors, 8:00 a.m. Boom.

There was a line out the door,

around the corner of Second Avenue.
Just like that.

And we were in it.

It was this tiny slip of a bakery,
like the size of this bar. It really was.

And there was four or five of us

all scrunched in there,
working and baking all day.

A bunch of young kids just like,
"Hey, we're gonna do this bakery,

and Christina's our fearless leader,
and she knows what she's doing,"

even though she was half a step
ahead of us the whole time.

I finally had something that was mine,

that I had figured out,

and the only thing I needed to do
was create awesome food.

[Courtney] It all happened so quickly,
and we were so crazy busy.

Like, we were exploding out the seams.

Then all of a sudden,
I'd be out and people are like,

"What do you do?"
I was like, "Oh, I work at Milk Bar."

They'd be like, "Oh, my God!"

We thought we were already busy,

and then we got this press
and it was an explosion.

There is this bakery in New York
that I just discovered

that has changed the way--

I didn't know cookies could taste so good.

You told me the name of it.

Anderson Cooper blew Milk Bar up.

I think it's called Milk.
It's next to a restaurant called Momofuku.

He talks about it
for three minutes straight

in a way that, you're like,
you could not have dreamed this.

You couldn't have paid for it.
You could just...

-They have a pie. It's called crack pie...
-You told me about the pie.

...that is literally crack.
There is crack in that pie,

because once you have that pie,

you can think of nothing else
but having more of that pie.

It could not have come
at a more beautiful, challenging time.

To be like, oh, so now, not only does
everyone in New York City

want to know what crack pie is,

now everyone across America

is obsessed with getting their hands
on this crack pie.

And I was just living in that moment.

It wasn't until people that worked
with my mom would say, like,

"I saw your daughter
on Martha Stewart," or,

"Look at this article of your kid
in a magazine doing something,"

that she actually realized
that maybe she could breathe a little bit.

God bless my parents.
They were sure running a number on me.

But I do think that it set me up
for success in life.

And I have notes from them saying,
like, "You've been through it all.

You've had such a hard time,
and I'm so proud of you."

I was her brother.
I still consider myself her older brother.

But even older brothers
with little sisters,

the sister gets to a point, like,
"I'm not gonna listen to brother anymore."

But I'm okay if the sister
outshines the brother.

Totally okay with that.

She's her own boss now.

[Christina] The spirit of Milk Bar is,

"Come in. You're welcome.
We're here for you."

It's not this elitist place.

And that’s important to me.

It's not about, like,
only if you can get a reservation,

and only if you have
a certain amount of money

or a certain amount of time.

You don't need to go to a fine dining,
multi-course menu to indulge.

I think there is something about my path
that is very American Dreamy,

and it's representative of the opportunity

that you see, that you take,
that you carve out for yourself.

And what you go out and get.

You're allowed to be anything
that you wanna be,

and no one gets to tell you differently.

I'm a pastry chef
that can do basically anything.

But I choose to do something
that is more down-to-earth.

It's not something that I went out to do
to send a message.

But it's something that,
when I stop to think about,

I'm really proud of.

The food that I think of and bake
and feed people with...

has a sense of comfort and joy and care.

And it's through the style
of these baked goods

that have existed in America
for generations and generations before me,

and I'm confident for generations
and generations to come.

And that, when kids think
about making a cake,

a lot of them are thinking
about not frosting the sides of it.

And they're thinking about using
their imagination with limitless bounds.

And to think that that started with me,

and that I get to be a part of that
for every generation that comes,

and I have the opportunity to honor
all of the generations before me,

and to take it and run with it...

It just leaves me speechless.
It's pretty cool.