A few weeks ago, as election season heated up, Cambridge welcomed a DC insider who wows pols on both sides of the aisle: White House pastry chef Bill Yosses. Marking his third year presenting at Harvard's fall Science & Cooking public lecture series, the man Obama calls "the Crust Master" schooled a rapt crowd with his talk "How Phase Changes Cause Deliciousness." But first, Yosses chatted with us about the issues — like winter gardens and reality TV.

One of your responsibilities is tending the South Lawn kitchen garden. What's your philosophy on cooking seasonally? Every chef would like to cook seasonally, but it's not always possible, especially if you are living in a northern climate. Sometimes in the winter there's not much, and for a pastry chef that basically means apples and pears. We love seasonal, we love local, but we are not limited by it. . . . Eliot Coleman, a farmer in Maine, is a great example of the way chefs and farmers are collaborating today. He has a four-season garden — in Maine, if you can believe that — and we use a similar system. They're called hoops; it's a hoop with plastic over it, and in the dead of winter you can still grow things underneath because the sun heats the ground during the day and allows ground water to collect. We've grown things at the White House in January in the snowfall.

A French take on Italian tiramisu for the former president and first lady of France, blown sugar apples filled with ice cream for a Chinese state dinner — how do you make desserts that are culturally relevant to White House visitors? To me that has been one of the most interesting parts of the job. There are people coming from every corner of the world, so we do research in the kitchen. Of course, we want to learn about what kind of dishes and what ingredients the guests would like. Sometimes we'll call the embassies; sometimes they send information to us.

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  Topics: Food Features , White house, food features, pastry chef
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