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New York — Those artistic splatters of chocolate sauce or raspberry coulis surrounding desserts served at upscale restaurants have by now become a culinary cliché. But Bill Yosses, the pastry chef at Citarella, has taken his creations in a whole new direction, using unexpected ingredients such as sesame paste and licorice, with a look that’s inspired by fashion.
“The connection to fashion comes from my friend Zang Toi,” says Yosses, who has catered Toi’s shows and watched the runway preparations from backstage. For Yosses, food and fashion are closely intertwined. “It’s what you put on your body or what you put in your body,” he says. “I look at some of the same things a designer looks at in terms of aesthetics, such as draping and the silhouette.”
A black sesame seed panna cotta is as pared down and sophisticated as a Calvin Klein sheath. More ornate is a chocolate marquise cake shaped like a skirt worn by Marie Antoinette. The chocolate cherry jubilee bonbon with caramelized pistachios is a tall pillar of ice cream covered at tableside with a chocolate glaze that drapes over the form creating fabric-like folds when it sets.
Yosses fell in love with pastries and desserts in France, where he worked at La Maison du Chocolate and Fauchon. In 1985, he teamed up with David Bouley at Montrachet, and followed him to his four-star restaurants, Bouley and Bouley Bakery.
“I know what organza is,” boasts Yosses, whose chocolate organza cake is decorated with fabric-like ribbons. His interpretation of the classic peach cobbler has an elegant gossamer wing made of chocolate and glucose, while a halvah pillar with bittersweet chocolate daquoise and chocolate peanut sauce looks like a statuesque woman wearing a slinky tiger-striped gown.
Yosses is hoping to make the fashion-food connection literal when he teams up with Toi in November at the Metropolitan Pavilion here for a chocolate show that pairs designers with pastry chefs.