Pastry Chef Goes From the White House to the Slaughterhouse, Baking Meat Pies for 'Sweeney Todd'

Former White House executive pastry chef Bill Yosses used to make sweet desserts for two presidents.

Former White House executive pastry chef Bill Yosses has served sweet desserts to two presidents. Now, he makes pies that are filled with "human flesh."

“Everyone asks me, 'It really is chicken right?’ They want to be reassured," the pie maker tells from his rented out kitchen in New York City, where he prepares dozens of savory meat and vegetable pies as a pre-show meal for a new production of Sweeney Todd in the West Village.

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Yosses' pies play right along with the theme of the musical, which tells the tale of bloodthirsty barber Sweeney Todd, who chops up unsuspecting customers in a heinous act of revenge.

To hide the evidence of his crimes, the so-called "Demon Barber of Fleet Street" distributes the remains of his victims to resourceful pie shop proprietress Mrs. Lovett, who mixes the body parts into her baked goods.

Yosses, who retired from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in 2014 after serving Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, was recruited to make the pies for audiences to enjoy before the performance.

Watching the crowds eat from picnic tables is one of the best parts of cooking, according to Yosses.

“[I] love watching people eat," he said. "We really analyzed and name different pie eaters, including the ‘one-bite pie eater.’ There is the ‘sipper,’ the ‘finger wager’ who scoops the bottom of the bowl. We’re flattered by all of this, of course.”

As for those who opt for the vegetable pie, "it's really a cop-out if you ask me," Yosses said.

The acclaimed chef rarely got the opportunity see customers enjoy his concoctions in the White House. 

“A few times we were invited in to say hello, but we like to give them their space,” Yosses explained.

He couldn't help but "dish" on the preferred dessert of one former commander in chief.

“If I had served peach pie to President George W. Bush every night he would have been fine. I would have gotten bored, but he wouldn’t."

Obama nicknamed Yosses "The Crustmaster."

"His pies — I don't know if there is crack in them," the 44th president quipped during a press conference in 2014.

Yosses admits that despite separate political ideologies, the two former presidents could always agree when it came to Yosses' creations.

“There are probably no two different philosophies than the presidents I served, but they both love pies,” he said. "It was an honor and privilege to serve Bush and Obama."

The chef said that during his time in D.C., he was happy to serve two men with an extremely important position.

"It’s a really hard job," he said. "Our job as chefs in the White House is to make that part of their lives comfortable, so they can eat well and not worry about where their food is coming from and have the meal ready on time."

Yosses initially hung up his spatula to spend more time working with Michelle Obama on her ‘Let’s Move’ campaign.

“I wanted to expand my involvement with that," he said. "I thought I can do so by going to schools more frequently, engaging with young people, by speaking. It was really because of Mrs. Obama’s inspiration."

Now, he’s cooking for theatergoers. But Yosses believes the job isn’t that different from his time in America's most famous address.

“I think in the White House, I learned a sense of theatricality," Yosses said. "It’s maybe the most famous set in the world. Every step... is very scripted. I really feel like I had a good prep for the theater by being in the White House."

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In addition to his work for the theater, Yosses also owns his own online business called Perfect Pie, and his latest cookbook, The Sweet Spot, comes out in October.

Looking ahead, Yosses could very well stay in the “cannibalism” field for a while. If Sweeney Todd goes on the road, he’s going too. But if that’s the case, his "organic farm" (the cemetery across the street) would stay put.

For an exclusive recipe for lemon meringue pie (including the famous "crustmaster" pie crust) from Yosses' The Sweet Spot, click here.

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