Bill Yosses knows a thing or two about cooking. He also has some knowledge in teaching young children and adults about eating better.
The former White House pastry chef will bring both to Northfield on Saturday.
At the invitation of Carleton College senior Vayu Maini Rekdal, Yosses is making an appearance on campus to participate in a residency with the college’s Firebellies Cooking Club and to present a variety of workshops for students and community members, according to a Carleton release.
Yosses was the official executive pastry chef at the White House from 2007 until June 2014, when he resigned to work on a new project focusing on “food literacy” by teaching young children and adults about eating better.
Yosses is working to integrate cooking into U.S. schools in an effort to improve public health and nutrition, as well as addressing problems in science education. He said he believed that the experimental nature of cooking makes it the perfect medium for promoting culinary and scientific curiosity from an early age.
That is a concept that Vayu Rekdal also believes.
“Understanding this idea that cooking and science belong together, it’s not just a cool thing. Not just the ‘wow factor,’” he said. “There are some broader implications in the connection between the two. We can use cooking to teach scientific concepts.”
Rekdal is the president of the Firebellies Cooking Club. Founded three years ago, the group hosts weekly events and works to promote food literacy through the joy of cooking, both on and off-campus.
An extension of the club is the Young Chefs program, an after-school activity and summer camp that works to empower and engage youth through encouraging creativity in the kitchen, exploring culinary science, and creating mentor-student bonds.
The program involves more than 20 college volunteers and several Carleton College faculty, reaching close to 100 youth in the Northfield and Faribault school districts.
Yosses will meet with the Young Chefs on Friday during his visit to Northfield.
It was through a summer undergraduate course at Harvard called “The Science of Cooking” that Rekdal first met Bill Yosses, who lectured in the class.
The two shared similar ideas and stayed in touch. When the Firebellies Club was thinking about bringing a speaker to campus, Rekdal thought that Yosses would be a natural choice.
“I’m excited about what I’m doing now,” Yosses said on his switch from working at the White House to promoting food literacy. “I get to travel and meet students interested in cooking as a portal to healthier life options.”
Yosses said that he doesn’t have any misgivings about resigning as the executive pastry chef, saying that he likes to look ahead to the future.
“I will miss it because it was a significant and satisfying part of my life,” he confessed.
On his former position at the White House, Yosses joked that to get a job like that, there isn’t exactly a classified ad out there promoting it.
“They look at who is working in the field,” he said. “I was lucky enough to have a picture of a dessert I made featured in a magazine.”
From there, the selection committee reached out to him.
Yosses said that he hopes those who attend his workshops in Northfield simply have fun.
“First of all, food is about pleasure, both intellectual and gastronomic,” he said. “Secondly, that they have a few new recipes to make. And finally, to have insights into the many layers of food: from flavor, to health, science, creativity and as a way to cultural understandings.”