What a Famed Pastry Chef (Seeking a Healthy Balance) Keeps in Her Fridge at Home

Photo: Julia Wu

Imagine taking "test bites" of cookies, ice cream, and decadent desserts for a living, all while keeping careful tabs on your body. That’s exactly what Christina Tosi, founder of Milk Bar—and creator of those epic triple-layer, funfetti birthday cakes—does on a daily basis. As the head chef and owner of the six locations in New York City (plus two more in D.C. and Toronto), Tosi spends most of her days bouncing around between locations and utilizing her lunch hour for “research and development.”

“Eating and cooking are my creative outlets and my job, so I try not to get stuck in a food routine,” she explains. “My whole day involves trying new things, and I don’t want to be tied down to restrictions or ‘diets.’ I just want to enjoy the food, eat what tastes good, and listen to my body so I’m balancing everything out.”

"I just want to enjoy the food, eat what tastes good, and listen to my body so I’m balancing everything out"

And what about that R&D-time at lunch? While Milk Bar may be known for its sweets and treats, Tosi also takes a walk on the savory side: "I like to deep dive into foods for lunch, so right now I'm super into sandwiches. I'll have a different sandwich every single day for a month and explore flavors and styles. [Then] I'll switch to salads, soups, or steamed buns, just to explore what's going on in the field."

So what exactly does someone so tuned in to the food scene keep in her own fridge at home? She's revealing all here.

Scroll down to see what Milk Bar founder and serious foodie Christina Tosi stocks in her fridge.

Photo: Julia Wu

Your fridge is pretty sparse—is it usually this empty?

Unless I have a big dinner party planned, it's usually pretty sparse. I always have the essentials—veggies, eggs, and greens—and will use that to whip up a last-minute dinner like a omelette, steamed veggies, or a salad. Then I grocery shop [for specific ingredients] before prepping for dinner. It's always nice to have the necessities, but I never do huge weekly grocery trips because I just don't usually know where my week will take me. 

Let's talk about the fresh ingredients you have in there, like those greens and berries.

I pack the berries in my purse to snack on throughout the day, or throw them in a spinach salad with some kind of protein. Sometimes, I'll add the greens and asparagus to eggs, making an omelette. Or I'll just cook the veggies separately and eat a bunch of them as a meal. Snacking all day often makes me not hungry for dinner, but I'll eat spinach even if I'm not hungry—it just makes me feel so much better. The berries are the ultimate temptation ingredient for a baker: do I feel like making a pie or will I be virtuous and just munch on them as-is?

I see that you have Lactaid—are you sensitive to dairy?

I don’t have a terrible sensitivity—I use regular milk in all of my products at the stores—but my sister is sensitive to dairy, so I've become more sensitive to those with dairy allergies or preferences. When I'm using milk at home to make desserts or smoothies, I'll use Lactaid because it's real milk and tastes exactly the same, just without the lactose—so everyone can enjoy!

And is that a pizza box?

It is! I love pizza. This box was leftovers from dinner with a friend the other night—even when I'm treating myself, I make sure to keep leftovers so I'm not overindulging.

I spy cold brew, green smoothies, and Pellegrino water....

I’m a grab-and-go kind of girl, so I always have those available to take on my way out in the mornings. That's what the cookies are there for, too. I eat those like people eat protein bars—just a little piece to get my day going.

What's your go-to dinner party meal?

Dessert is the showstopper—always. I have very little restraint when it comes to dessert and I rarely make just one thing. For dinner, I generally keep it simple and healthy. I'm on a roasted chicken kick right now—I think there's nothing more lovely and classy for a dinner party. I also like to take advantage of in-season produce. Right now, I'd probably sauté fresh mushrooms and make a shaved asparagus or tomato salad. Then, for dessert, I'd make a strawberry ice pie or whip up a fresh strawberry jam and put it into a pie crust. I’d also probably make some aperitifs with fresh blueberries, maybe something with an in-season stone fruit—they're so delicious this time of year. See, I have no restraint!

If I were to eat dessert all day, I'd probably feel like crap. What's your secret?

I've been doing this for the past eight years, so finding that balance has been key. I mean, part of my job is to literally eat, and I obviously love sugar, but I'm also very active. I'm always hopping around town and make sure to either walk or bike to my next destination—it keeps me constantly moving. Plus, I'm a big runner for exercise. In terms of food, I try to listen to my body every day. If I want dessert, I'll have it. If not, I won't. If I have a tasting which requires me to eat a ton of sweets, I'll balance it out for the rest of the day with a green juice and salad. It's all about keeping that balance and only eating what makes my body feel good.

Do you have a sweet tooth too? Here are 12 of the most indulgent desserts that are actually healthy. And take a cue from Tosi by throwing your own healthy, memorable dinner party with these foolproof tips.

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