Bill Yosses, White House pastry chef, gets just desserts from CUNY
By Katie Nelson A New Yorker with the sweetest job in all of Washington is about to get props from his alma mater. Bill Yosses, of the upper East Side, splits his time between the city and the nation's capital, where he works as head pastry chef for the White House. The job is no piece of cake, he says. The biggest challenge, he said, is to inject sensible ingredients into his tasty treats. "The problem for me is, every day is a special occasion at the White House," said Yosses, a New York City College of Technology alum who will be honored by CUNY next week. "So I have to use a lot of willpower to try not to indulge, but it's also about showing that desserts can be part of a healthy lifestyle." The French-trained chef uses whole-grain flours and swaps maple syrup or honey for sugar. He replaces butter with grape seed, safflower, walnut or pistachio oils. And he often uses fresh berries and herbs from the Obamas' garden when fixing up desserts. "Moderation and good-sourcing is the core of our philosophy for healthy eating," Yosses, 56, said. The First Family is a health-conscious clan, despite their affection for fruit-filled pies. Combatting childhood obesity is Michelle Obama's biggest campaign. So naturally, Yosses is charged with helping the Obamas walk that talk on a daily basis, whether it's an intimate family dinner on the second floor of the White House or a picnic on the South Lawn with 2,000 guests. He's been working at the White House since 2007. Yosses laid out a spread of cherry-almond and blueberry scones, served with clotted cream and homemade cantaloupe-almond and pear-ginger jams for Friday's Mother's Day Tea for about 140 people, including Michelle Obama and former First Lady Rosalynn Carter A native of Ohio Yosses said he fell in love with French food and cooking techniques. He moved east and wound up at CUNY, earning a degree in 1982 in hotel management. That led to jobs at top New York restaurants, including The Polo, Montrachet Restaurant, Citarella and the now-shuttered Tavern on the Green. While he loves his dual life in D.C. and New York, he said the Big Apple will always come first. "I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings in Washington, but I will always be a New Yorker because there is no place in the world like it," he said.
Yosses prepares crepes topped with a compote of kumquat, pineapple and Tupelo honey; fresh orange segments; an organic artisanal chocolate from Brooklyn's Mast Brothers and a coconut lime sorbet.