The Untold Truth Of Bill Yosses From Baker's Dozen

The world of competition baking shows has grown even wider with the addition of Hulu's brand-new series, "Baker's Dozen." As TV Passport explains, the show will be rather similar in format to Netflix's, "Nailed It!," as each episode gets a new roster of competing bakers vying for a cash prize, baking fame, and a Golden Rolling Pin. As for the hosts, participants get to hang around Tamera Mowry-Housley and French-trained pastry chef William "Bill" Yosses (via Hulu).

For many, Yosses needs no introduction, as his career goes back far beyond being the host of a cooking competition. He served the administrations of former presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama during his seven-year stint as the White House Executive Pastry Chef, for one. He's also worked at renowned restaurants, owned a bakery, and published three books on desserts, according to Pastry Arts Magazine. Here's a look at the career trajectory of a chef known for his delicious pies.

Yosses discovered his dream job at Rutgers University

Yosses didn't pursue cooking originally — he really stumbled into it while completing his master's degree in French language and literature at Rutgers University in the mid-1970s, he explained in an interview with Rutgers Today. "Rutgers was a great, great period in my life — really the beginning of my career in food," he said. "In addition to focusing on rigorous academics, the French Department was a celebratory place — the students would get together and host one another for dinner. That gave me my first appreciation of French cuisine."

Yosses described these dinners in more detail in a later interview with Parade. "They would cook coq au vin, and I thought, wow, food can be like this! I knew then that I would become a chef." After completing his master's degree, Yosses studied hotel management at the New York City College of Technology and served as an apprentice in renowned kitchens in France and New York City, per a press release from the George W. Bush administration. However, his culinary pursuits didn't end his interest in academics. He would later engage in various educational projects, such as collaborating with the American Museum of Natural History to present an exhibition on the history of chocolate.

Yosses was especially beloved by the Obama administration

As you might imagine, a White House pastry chef who served two presidential families from opposing parties must be very talented — and diplomatic. You'd be correct: When New York Magazine asked Yosses whether there was a difference between desserts enjoyed by Republicans and Democrats, he said, "The great thing about this job is that it's not red or blue, it's purple. A chef who speaks out like a Hollywood celebrity about politics loses half his customers."

While Yosses never named a favorite president, he was definitely the favorite pie maker of President Obama. "His pies — I don't know what he does, whether he puts crack in them," the former president told People about Yosses' addictive confections. "Whatever pie you like, he will make it and it will be the best pie you have ever eaten," Obama elaborated (via Today). He was so taken with the desserts that he even nicknamed Yosses the "Crustmaster." Now that's an impression.

Yosses did not quit his White House job due to a feud with Michelle Obama

Some news outlets spread the misconception that when Yosses retired from his White House position in 2014, it was because he and Michelle Obama had clashed over his cooking. As you might remember, Obama's tenure as the first lady focused heavily on making the nation more active and nutritionally literate (via Let's Move).

NPR explains that the confusion was due to a conservative publication called the Daily Caller taking a Yosses quote, "I don't want to demonize cream, butter, sugar, and eggs," out of context to suggest that he did not approve of Obama's requests for healthier desserts. In reality, the pastry chef told The New York Times that the administration's new garden and health initiatives "inspired" him to make nutritious twists on everyday desserts, while "traditional," more decadent desserts still had a place on special occasions.

As Yosses wrote in Pastry Arts Magazine, his career change took him to UCLA to help roll out the Global Food Initiative, which he said combats food waste, provides outreach and services to church groups and underserved communities, and takes many cues from Obama's Let's Move initiative. However, Yosses' career spent in the kitchen meant that he couldn't quite find fulfillment outside of the culinary world.

From inside the White House to Off Broadway

Think of all the doors that can open when you have the title of "White House Executive Pastry Chef" on your resume. All of Yosses' prestigious potential job opportunities, however, probably paled in comparison to the fun he must have had while preparing the pies for the Barrow Street Theatre's 2017 production of "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street" in New York City. 

As Eater details, the plot of the musical follows a barber-turned-serial killer who sends his victims' corpses to a nearby pie shop, where they're baked into pastries. For each performance, Yosses prepared chicken and vegetable pies with mashed potatoes, herb sauce, and grated truffle, which audience members could enjoy before the show for $22.50. He made them in the kitchen of his online dessert business, Perfect Pie. It happened to be "located across the street from one of the oldest cemeteries in New York, but we don't source locally," he joked to Eater.

Yosses' first standalone restaurant was short-lived

Clearly, Yosses has enjoyed success since leaving the White House. In 2019, he opened his first restaurant, Palais by Perfect Pie, a French bistro serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner on New York City's Upper East Side (via Time Out). While the kitchen served "exceptional" savory dishes like coq au vin and roasted duck, The Yums reports, Yosses' "other-worldly" pastries got most of the attention, as you might expect. A French restaurant and patisserie run by the Obama-adored ex-White House pastry chef? Sounds like the perfect pitch for a business. 

Puzzlingly, the establishment closed after just five months in March of 2020, just before the pandemic began to seriously affect the city, due to a lack of funding, said The New York Times. Despite the setback, Yosses' career has been a series of victories thanks to his acclaimed desserts, which are sure to inspire contestants on "Baker's Dozen."