What We Missed at Questlove’s Food Salon with Joanne Chang

The Flour Bakery owner made healthy-ish desserts to follow courses by Top Chef star Kwame Onwuachi and other national chefs.

Rice Crisp Pea treats. #eatyourveggies @questlove said he liked them better than traditional! #questlovefoodsalon

A photo posted by joannebchang (@joannebchang) on

If you didn’t already know that Questlove, the drummer of the Roots and all-around bon vivant, has a refined palate and a huge appetite, maybe seeing the cover of his latest book, Something to Food About, helped you understand. The April release depicts the man, famous ’fro and glasses and all, in fruits and vegetables, a la Italian painter Giuseppe Arcimboldo.

So when Joanne Chang created the dessert course Questlove’s latest food salon this week, she brought the vitamins, minerals, and fiber. 

“I get to make all the things I never got to eat as a kid for @questlove and 75 of his friends @questlovesfood. And I added veggies to all of them,” the recent James Beard Award winner shared on Instagram

That means “fauxtess” cupcakes filled with chickpea meringue, and iced with soy ganache:

The dinner party’s theme was childhood classics. Kwame Onwuachi, a Top Chef opening the Shaw Bijou in Washinton, D.C., invoked fish sticks with butter garlic crab and uni bottarga; chef Amanda Cohen of Dirt Candy (New York) came with carrot sliders; and Bryce Shuman of Betony (New York) made “piggie bites.”

Every food salon has a pastry chef, and this one has Joanne Chang, the owner of @flourbakeryandcafe in Boston and the winner of the 2016 James Beard award for Best Baker. She grew up in Houston in a Taiwanese family and learned to cook by preparing snacks for her younger brother when her parents were at work. She used to head out to the convenience store to buy ingredients for those snacks, and while she tried to buy healthy, her head was turned by all the brightly colored packages: the Pop Tarts, the cookies, the chips. For tonight’s fourth course, she created a set of desserts she called “Eat Your Veggies!”—her versions of those childhood guilty pleasures but with vegetables in them. That meant white-sweet-potato-filled Oreos, adzuki-bean Pop Tarts with a five-spice glaze, eggplant-tomato Fig Newtons, McDonald apple-jicama pies, and vegan chocolate zucchini Hostess Cupcakes. Health and pleasure: what more can you want? ➖➖ FOURTH COURSE: “Eat Your Veggies!” White Sweet Potato Filled Oreos Adzuki Bean Pop Tarts Bean Glaze Rice CrispPea Treats Vegan Chocolate Zucchini Hostess Cupcakes #questlovesfood #questlovesfoodsalon

A photo posted by Quest Loves Food (@questlovesfood) on

This is hereby a formal plea to add red bean paste Pop-Tarts to the menu at all Flour Bakeries henceforth, please.

Questlove’s team uploads videos of the food salons to Vimeo, so keep an eye out for footage of Chang’s visit.

Flour Bakery + Café, 12 Farnsworth St., Boston, 617-338-4333, and other locations, flourbakery.com.