In part, the Hamilton Hotel Washington DC deliciously celebrates its 100th anniversary with a former White House pastry chef.
Bill Yosses played this culinary role during the George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations. Now, in late 2022, Yosses will serve in a “Centennial Pastry Residency” with the Hamilton Hotel and will participate in two culinary events in December.
On Thursday, December 8, from 5-7pm, Yosses will be teaching a baking class at the hotel titled “Sweeten the Season.” Guests can chat with Yosses in a meetup after the event. She will then also sign copies of her latest book, “The Sweet Spot: Dialing Back Sugar and Amping Up Flavor.”
For the Hamilton Hotel’s annual Hot Chocolate Table, December 12-16, 2022, Yosses will share the history of chocolate and sweet facts about the chocolate-making process. She will also share some Christmas recipes.
In 2006, Yosses moved to our nation’s capital and lived one block from the hotel on McPherson Square in downtown Washington, DC.
“The hotel contacted me when they were planning their 100th anniversary,” Yosses said. “He was connected to the White House and to the history of the area. And I am also a history buff. So, also on a personal level, I was very flattered to be asked to join this particular residency.”
His residency at the Hamilton Hotel began in early November 2022. To mark the occasion, Yosses created a miniature Scottish Dundee cake as a courtesy service to all hotel guests staying on-site on the night of November 1.
“Guests were given one when they checked in,” Yosses added.
Yosses has a lot of experience baking for guests. He was White House Executive Pastry Chef from 2007 to 2014. He succeeded his predecessor, the late Roland Mesnier, who served in this position for just over 25 years and through five presidents. Roland Mesnier retired from the position in 2004.
Being considered for this job came as a surprise to Yosses. He said he was approached for the position and then participated in a test bake when he added that he was chosen for the job.
Yossess explained that his job responsibilities as White House Executive Pastry Chef included planning and preparing desserts for occasions ranging from presidential banquets and state dinners to everyday meals for presidential families.
In her position of seven years, Yossess said her biggest challenge was not repeating a dessert. “Every event had an original dessert in some way,” he recalled. “It was adapted to be personalized for the people who were coming that day. So you have to continue to be very creative, get a lot of input, [and] do a lot of research.”
For Yossess, his biggest test would involve presidential state dinners. “You want to satisfy the visitor and their idea of what a dessert could be, but you also want to be attentive and aware of the American repertoire of desserts. Very often we would combine traditional American desserts with an ingredient from the visiting country.”
President Barack Obama’s First Presidential State Dinner welcomed His Excellency Dr. Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister of the Republic of India, and his wife, Mrs. Gursharan Kaur. Yossess recalled making a spiced pumpkin pie with ingredients like garam masala.
While at the White House, he worked closely with Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move. initiative to improve health outcomes related to eating problems and was responsible for managing the First Lady’s South Lawn.
His resume also includes The Dressing Room in Westport, Connecticut and Bouley’s Restaurant in New York City. He was also the owner and chef of the Palais restaurant, also in New York City. He is the author of three books and a co-host of the Hulu television series, “Baker’s Dozen.”
Now residing in New York, Yossess is currently the director of nutrition for One World One Kitchen. He also works at the Stone Barns Food and Agriculture Center, involved in field trips and workshops focused on healthier eating options for children.
In addition to this partnership with Yossess, the Hamilton Hotel will offer a Centennial Celebration Package with rates as low as $19.22, a tribute to the property’s opening in 1922. Rates start at $19.22 for the first 10 bookings and then $100 for the next 20 reservations. It also includes complimentary birthday cake martinis from the hotel restaurant, Via Sophia, and a glass of champagne upon check-in.