You'll Never Guess Milk Bar Chef Christina Tosi's Secret Ingredient

Ever wanted to peek inside the closets, makeup bags, and carry-ons of the world's chicest jet-setters? Us too—and so we did. For InStyle's October issue, on newsstands now and available for digital download, we sat down with the industry's hottest tastemakers and asked them to spill their best-kept tips and tricks for living a stylish life.

Christina Tosi
Photo: Danielle Kosann

We firmly believe that you haven't lived until you've had a Compost cookie, so we had to know what the treat's creator Christina Tosi, chef and owner of Momofuku Milk Bar, swears by in the kitchen. Read on to find out what she adds to every dish for a little extra kick and what she thinks belongs in every home.

What's the trick for packing any dish with flavor?
"When I am cooking at home, my secret ingredient is onion. I love to caramelize onions. I love to char onions. They bring this great sweetness. Of course, I like even my savory food to have a dimension of sweetness."

How about when you're baking?
"When I’m speaking more about the sweet side of the kitchen, it’s milk powder. It's jokingly referred to as the MSG for pastry chefs. It adds this really great richness, depth of flavor, and texture to baked goods. You use milk powder normally to hydrate with water. Sometimes pastry chefs use it in ice cream. But I love to use it in baking applications. Parmalat makes a great one. It's in your standard grocery store powdered drink aisle."

What's a good entry-level baking experiment to do with milk powder?
"I would make cookies. That’s one of my secrets when I’m just making a classic chocolate chip cookie at home. Add two tablespoons of milk powder to your favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe and watch your eyes pop out of your head."

Do you have a guilty pleasure?
"Pizza and a fresh can of Coca-Cola poured over ice."

Not-So-Guilty Pleasure
"I eat one of my Compost cookies for breakfast with my coffee."

Best investment you can make for your kitchen?
"All-Clad bakeware will last for years and comes in tons of varnishes."

If you're going to a dinner party at someone's home, what's a no-fail hostess gift?
"The most meaningful ones are personal, so when I’m invited somewhere for dinner, I bring a book that I know my host will love. For example, I just gave my friend Modern Romance, by Aziz Ansari—it’s hilarious!"

Are there any beauty tricks you've picked up from spending so much time in the kitchen?
"Oil of Olay moisturizing cream. I wash my hands constantly, which is extremely drying, and this keeps them hydrated. It’s as thick as cake batter. In the winter I apply it before bed and sleep with gloves on."

Have you discovered any great off-the-beaten-path restaurants in your travels?
"El Mago de las Fritas restaurant in Miami is perfectly located right in between the airport and downtown Miami, so it’s worth holding off on fast food and stopping here after you land. Imo's is is my go-tom whenever I’m in St. Louis, for cheese pizza.”

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