The Momofuku restaurant group started up in 2004 as a postage stamp-sized ramen noodle bar in New York City’s East Village. It garnered a following rather quickly for the innovative ramen dishes and simple, but incredibly addictive, pork buns. At the helms of chef-owner David Chang, Momofuku steadily grew over the years to include numerous branches and locations in New York and Toronto, such as Ssäm Bar, Noodle Bar, Momofuku Ko, Ma Pêche, and Milk Bar.
Momofuku Milk Bar, which opened in 2008, was the group’s long awaited ode to classic, sugary concoctions. Headed by Christina Tosi, Milk Bar offered a menu that consisted of familiar sounding sweet treats cleverly graced with the creative edge the brand had come to be known for. Cornflakes were steeped in milk and sweetened to make cereal milk soft serve, and were mixed into cookie dough with marshmallows and chocolate chips to create a rewarding cookie with an extra crunchy, sweet and salty flavor.
The innovative Milk Bar recipes were eventually collected into a widely anticipated cookbook released in 2011. The cookbook, Momofuku Milk Bar, written by Christina Tosi, candidly reveals the story of how a start-up dessert program in a basement prep space in the kitchen of the original Momofuku Noodle Bar became the nationally known Milk Bar bakery it is today. The Milk cookbook is beautifully shot and documents how to recreate Tosi’s addictive recipes at home in simple, approachable steps.
I have mentioned previously how happy we are to have Yewande Komolafe on as our culinary consultant at the café. Yewande worked at Milk Bar for two years at the original East Village location. While there, she rediscovered a passion for the creative (yet fundamentally scientific) process behind recipe research and development.
Here at the café, we are consistently thinking of different ways to incorporate the beautiful, seasonal produce we get from our local farms into our menu. This in turn means we are constantly creating, testing, and tasting new recipes—a duty which Yewande has taken on—bringing the Momofuku approach to our menu development.
This creative, yet playful, attitude to recipe building is perhaps what I find the most fascinating about Momofuku Milk Bar. The book takes a seemingly complicated process of recipe development and makes it relatable in the most basic of ways. The book has brilliantly broken all the recipes down into ten basic “mother” recipes. Using the mother recipes, each chapter lists a variation, achieved by incorporating a different main ingredient. Sidebars along each recipe explain technique and the reason behind the importance of a specific ingredient in a recipe.
Home cooks everywhere will find comfort in Tosi’s statement that describes the task of recreating a recipe as this:
“There are no tricky secrets to what we do – it’s about getting in there, working smart, and making something delicious out of everyday ingredients… We all started off as home cooks and we never stray far from our roots. This cookbook is a collection of the recipes from our lives and love affairs with food that we have adapted, adjusted, tasted once and tasted twice and made in the Momofuku spirit.”
As our café grows and our menu expands, Yewande and I look forward to playing with and serving adaptations of favorite recipes from Momofuku Milk Bar.
Purchase the Milk Bar cookbook in our online store here.