At Recharge Bar, Christina Tosi on the Beauty of Breakfast

We talked to Momofuku Milk Bar's Christina Tosi about how to approach cereal in the most creative way possible
At Recharge Bar, Christina Tosi on the Beauty of Breakfast
Karen Lo

At Kellogg's Recharge Bar, chef Christina Tosi talks about her Seinfeld-ian love of cereal.

This week, Kellogg’s is hosting a pop-up cereal bar in midtown Manhattan (1701 Broadway) in the name of a balanced breakfast Kellogg's has recruited Christina Tosi, chef, owner, and founder of Momofuku Milk Bar — whose unabashed sweet tooth has led to desserts like the legendary Birthday Cake, Crack Pie, and Compost Cookie — to create a series of healthy and accessible cereal and milk combinations.

Tosi’s Cereal and Milk Recharge Combos, which are available for free to the public from June 24 through June 27 from 7 a.m. until 2 p.m. (plus additional hours on June 26 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.), include The King (Raisin Bran, skim milk, toasted peanuts, and banana chips), Pistachio Lemon (Special K original cereal, Frosted Flakes, milk, pistachios, lemon zest, and thyme, and Tosi’s favorite, Berry Au Lait (Frosted Mini-Wheats, Milk Bar Cereal Milk, ground coffee, and fresh raspberries), among others.

Each of Tosi’s creations are meant to be easy to create at home, and made from things you probably already have somewhere in your pantry.

Visitors can also create their own cereal mixes from the Recharge Bar, complete with a selection of Kellogg’s cereals, flavor boosts (fruits, nuts, spices), and milk options.

This morning, Tosi was on hand to talk about the development process for her Cereal and Milk combinations, which happened in much the same way that desserts at Milk Bar are made:

I have this nook at Milk Bar that’s my office, and my desk was just full of every box of Kellogg’s cereal, and at different times during the day I would open up a box, eat a bowl of cereal, and I live in world of Post-it notes, so I would leave tasting notes on all the cereal.

For two weeks I was going through bowls of cereal at all different times throughout the day and making all these tasting notes on the sides of the boxes. Then I sat down for a day or two and started fleshing out what my ideal flavor combinations would be. That also means thinking about the texture profiles and the flavors of each cereal, because every cereal is different in terms of what it will pair with and what kind of texture it brings, how it transforms when you eat it with yogurt or with milk. I lived on an all-cereal diet for a few weeks.

When I’m menu-developing at Milk Bar I’ll go for weeks at a time where all I’m doing is testing out layer cakes or different cookies and testing out changes. I think that’s just what you do in pursuit of the perfect bite, like the Seinfeld perfect bite.

Speaking of Seinfeld, he has so much cereal.

He does! And he’s always eating a bowl of cereal as snack or dinner. He’s so sturdy and standing up straight and eating a bowl of cereal. Before I moved to New York I was like, I’m totally going to be Jerry Seinfeld with my cereal and eating it at all times in the day and night.

At Milk Bar we have an entire room full of cereal that we use in our cereal milk and chocolate marshmallow cookies, and our cornflake crunch. We also always have these fixings and potential toppings available. It’s that sense of creativity and wonder in every meal, even at breakfast.

I always want to rethink how we approach pie, or how we approach cake and cookies. I love the challenge of thinking about how we might approach a bowl of cereal. People are getting so involved in foodie culture and becoming more educated about their food, and yet it can be really simple to do something that’s so good for you.

Are you good about making sure that you eat breakfast every day?

At this point days are 14 to 16 hours and I realized that if I don’t start my morning being good to myself, I’m just gonna crash and burn in the middle of the day. I have all of these things at the ready, and I can do it in a really fun way.

So the whole purpose of this event is to put the focus back on breakfast?

There are so many messages out there about what you should be eating and drinking and what you should be putting in your body at the beginning of the day. It’s confusing and people get very overwhelmed.

Really one of the greatest options is just a bowl of cereal and milk. Just make it fun and exciting and boost it up with extra flavors. It’s that simple, and it’s that fun. You don’t have to go out of your way, you don’t have to spend $12 on a bottle of juice. The combination of grains and proteins in something that’s so simple and accessible and affordable is what your body needs. For me it’s like fueling your creativity while you fuel your body.

On Wednesday, The Roots will visit the Recharge Bar to perform their own rendition of the “Milk and Cereal song,” followed by a visit from Dancing with the Stars’ Derek Hough on Thursday. Tosi will also return to the Recharge Bar on Thursday evening for more festivities.


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Karen Lo is an associate editor at The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @appleplexy.