FOOD & DRINK
02/07/2012 02:44 pm ET Updated Aug 31, 2012

Chefs We Love: Christina Tosi

Chefs We Love is a Valentine's Day tribute to those who have done great work in the culinary world -- to those who inspire us to not only eat well, but to try new things in our own kitchens. With this holiday around the corner, we at Kitchen Daily felt that it was appropriate to share our love and respect for those who have most inspired and influenced our passion for cooking. See more chefs we love.

My first experience with Christina Tosi, pastry chef of the Momofuku Milk Bar, was watching her on the Martha Stewart show as she made her famous compost cookie (a cookie that includes favorite snack foods such as pretzels, potato chips and chocolate). She completely and totally blew my mind with her inventiveness, and, well, her rebellious nature. At the time, I was still a novice baker -- trying desperately to figure out what worked and what didn't. I was thankful for all the rules there were in baking, finding it easier to navigate a baker's world with some guidelines.

There are certain rules you always read and certain steps that are just followed when it comes to baking muffins or a loaf of bread. You should cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, you should use unsalted butter, you should sift your flour, you should tightly pack the brown sugar. So many rules. And when you are first starting out, you just don't question them, because you'll do whatever it takes to have your cake rise in the oven -- even if you have to stand on one foot while whisking the ingredients together with your right hand and touching your nose with your left.

But Christina Tosi, she made up her own rules. And she wasn't scared about it. She added whatever ingredients she wanted, mixed them together in her own way, and she made it work. The Oprah Magazine has even put together a list of baking rules that Tosi quite vocally ignores. The good girl in me admired this rebellious outlook, and from that moment on, I was hooked.

But it's not only her gonna-do-it-my-way attitude that charms me, I also admire her absolute love of all things sweet. It takes a real lover of sugar to come up with items such as cereal milk (which is simply the milk that is leftover in your bowl of cereal -- preferably a sugary kid's cereal) from which she makes ice creams and other sweet confections with. And the way that she's able to reinvent classics, making them fun to eat again, like her cinnamon bun pie (imagine the cinnamon bun dough as a pie crust and cream cheese frosting as the filling).

And while I've been making her recipes at home since I first saw her three years ago on TV -- at least whichever ones I could get my hands on -- the experience of walking into her Brooklyn Momofuku Milk Bar bakery was one I'll never forget. I was a kid in a candy store. Ohh-ing and ahh-ing at all the concoctions, and finding it close to impossible to contain myself. Let's just say I walked out with more than one item that day -- and I loved every single one of them.

A couple of Tosi's recipes:
Chocolate-chocolate cookies
Birthday Cake

What chef most inspires you? Leave a comment below!

WATCH: Christina Tosi Makes Her Famous Recipes

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