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Cooking Basics

Why Christina Tosi is a masterchef

America can't seem to get enough of Christina Tosi and her creative confections. 

Momfuku Milk Bar's acclaimed pastry chef  --known for her sweet treats like Compost Cookies and Crack Pie--just brought home the James Beard award for Outstanding Pastry Chef.  Later this month, she'll become the first female judge on Fox's "MasterChef" --and Milk Bar Life, her cookbook released in April, is getting rave reviews. This comes as Momofuku Milk Bar is set to open its latest outpost in Washington, D.C.--expected this year. 

Tosi took some time out of her busy schedule to talk to FoxNews.com about everything from shows to sugar --and what it feels like to judge her first TV cooking competition.

Christina Tosi: It's incredibly thrilling. I was a huge fan of "MasterChef" and "MasterChef Junior" before becoming a judge, and I'm a professional chef but I was a home cook first, so it's really fun to get to straddle those two things – at home and at work.  And it's really exciting to be the newest judge, the first female judge, and also bringing a pastry presence to the competition.

FoxNews.com: What are you looking for in the contestants?

Tosi: I think that first and foremost, really delicious food. There's a lot you can teach in terms of technique and plating and presentation, but knowing what good food tastes like is, I would say, the most innate, natural talent that you can have as a home cook looking to become a professional chef. I think creativity, individuality, being inventive--and home cooks that know how to sort of reference where they're from and how they fell in love with food when they're cooking always translates in the most impressive way.

FoxNews.com: You've got a new cookbook – what are fans telling you is the most popular recipe?

Tosi: "Milk Bar Life" is a collection of sweet and savory recipes and stories about sort of how food travels through life at Milk Bar. I'd say the most popular recipe is a cookie, it's a Salt and Pepper Cookie. Sort of like a sugar cookie with salt and pepper in it and it's sort of intriguing and interesting, but really simple and accessible.

FoxNews.com: How do you come up with these creations? 

Tosi: There's definitely a lot of trial and error. I think we try to make it look as easy as possible and we're really particular about how many times we test a recipe before it ever makes it into a cookbook or into the store. But a lot of times it's really about a point of inspiration. I like to really be inspired by simple things in life, simple flavors, simple foods, flavors from childhood, and then use my skill and creativity and technique and knowledge of food to find really fun ways to recreate or reinvent that reference point.

FoxNews.com: Let's talk sugar. Sugar is being demonized, with some even asking if sugar is the new cigarettes. What are your thoughts on that?

Tosi: You know, I literally live in a world of sugar being a pastry chef. I think that there's so much messaging out there about the right balance of diet and lifestyle and for me, being a pastry chef, it's all in balance. I run every day, I take really great care of myself, but I think it's also important to not fear food and to be able to enjoy the things that you love. For me, it's sugar, it's sweets, it's dessert, but it has to be in balance with a healthy lifestyle and perspective on it.

FoxNews.com: Let's talk trends. Are people opting for more trendy foods over the classics?

Tosi: I think that the classics will always be the classics, but I do think that because food has become such an exciting subject that's accessible in homes across America that food trends inevitably are the most exciting way to make food fun and accessible and something that you want to try. I think the classics will always be something that we reference but I think food trends also inspire that creativity in the professional space because you can reference a classic and then fold in a food trend at the same time.

FoxNews.com: Any trend you're keeping your eye on now?

Tosi: At home I'm really getting into driningk a lot of juices – green juices and stuff like that – because inevitably, part of my day is testing recipes in the kitchen and eating dessert, so I like to balance that with fresh produce and greens and vegetables. Other food trends: A lot of world cuisine flavors are coming into play, spices, condiments, finding ways to play off more ethnic cuisine and that inevitably also has a really great focus on reinventing vegetables, reimagining how to bring vegetables into the home kitchen in new and exciting ways.