“Having the tools and skills to make healthier choices will not only simplify your life in the kitchen, but will fuel your passion to be excited about feeding yourself and your family.”
– Bianca Bianco, Chef & InstructorThis is the philosophy of Bianca Savary-Bianco, better known as “Bianca Bianco” — as seen on the branded labels of her products, which can be found at health food stores in Trinidad such as Happy Gourmet and The M Store. Bianca is a classically trained chef and the owner of The Bianca Bianco Healthy and Gourmet Teaching Kitchen, located in St. Joseph, north-west Trinidad. “My emphasis is on healthy cooking,” says Bianca, who believes that health should always be a key focus. Both of her parents passed away due to complications from diabetes, a disease with which several of her siblings also currently live. Her family’s experience has been a driving force throughout her career. “The food we eat is at the heart of many of the health issues we face today,” says Bianca. “And, just as other health professionals have a responsibility for the impact on others of what they practice; as a chef you have a responsibility to create a quality product, and to educate and enlighten others to do the same.”
A Passion for Healthy CookingBianca discovered her love for cooking at the age of 11, with her first foray being the creation of a crêpe. Soon, she began to pore over recipe books, nurturing the dream of becoming a chef as she explored the endless possibilities for creativity with food. With a certificate program in Hotel and Restaurant Management from the Hillsborough Community College in Tampa, Florida, U.S.A. under her belt; she and her husband opened an Italian restaurant Café Bianco. She subsequently nurtured her passion for tea by starting Mrs. Potts Tea & Special Occasions. Both companies closed in 2000, when she relocated with her family to New York, but her passion for cooking remained. She attended The New York Institute of Culinary Education (ICE), where she completed training in the Pastry Program and the Culinary Program, and graduated with top honours. After a long and successful career abroad working at many well-known restaurants, Bianca returned to her homeland of Trinidad and Tobago in 2012. “I always knew I wanted to return, and to do something positive upon doing so — something that can touch others and help to create the change in behaviour that is so desperately needed in the country,” she says. Today, she continues to follow her passion through catering for events, supplying health food stores with a variety of tasty options, and of course: teaching healthy cooking classes. “For me, teaching is so important because it empowers people to change their lives,” she states. “Too many people believe that eating healthy is too expensive or too hard or just impossible for some reason, and we need to change that mind-set. With the knowledge and skills gained through a simple cooking class, someone can change his or her life.”
Cooking for lifeFor Bianca, healthy eating came naturally, even prior to her training as a chef. “I have never eaten ‘badly’ per se, but once you experiment with and truly experience food, you have a far greater opportunity to practice healthier eating habits,” she adds. “Often, convenience and lack of time or skill or desire can lead to fast food becoming the norm.” She also has a profound appreciation for a well-balanced and nutritious diet. “Understanding your body as it relates to food is crucial,” she says. “Just because you are skinny, this does not mean you are healthy. At the same time, we have to be aware of the danger of obesity, diabetes, hypertension and other issues that can result from or be affected by our food choices.” She notes that people who face serious health issues often give up altogether, because they get bored eating the same things. “A health condition such as diabetes is not a death sentence,” she states. “The difference will be in how you deal with it, and whether or not you are willing to change your mind-set so that you can treat your body the way it should be treated from that point onwards.”
Food and the CommunityAnother key concern she voices, is the role of the family in the purchase and preparation of food. “The most convenient option is often the least healthy — but buying a box of fast food is a down payment on bad health; you will have to spend far more on your health later down the line,” she says. “Some people do not have a natural passion to cook, therefore we need to encourage them to ‘cook for their life’. Cooking and eating make up such a big part of any family life, and set the stage for what will be on the table for future generations.” Bianca recalls an experience when her daughter, at the age of five, was permitted to buy lunch on her own once a week. Later in the evening, they discussed what was chosen and why. Despite having a choice, the practice of providing reasoning behind food choices led to a more informed decision. “Children gravitate to what they know, and what they are taught, so it is important to develop healthy habits from an early age,” says Bianca. “I’ve had experiences where I witnessed children in fast food restaurants calling out the number of the item they wanted; they go so frequently. The onus is on the adults to be responsible and set the example.” The role of food providers is also very crucial, as they have the opportunity to be the gatekeepers in our society. She hopes to partner with food suppliers such as supermarket chains, to seek possible avenues to promote healthier choices to the public. “Often, I am contacted to cater an event, and the client wants three starches on a plate, and I have to be firm and say: ‘I’m not going to do that’,” she adds. “A chef needs to work hand in hand with a dietitian. We have to consider portion sizes and nutritional balance — rather than just provide what we are asked for without question. There has to be a checkpoint to ensure that there is a healthy balance.”
The Teaching Kitchen presents…The Bianca Bianco Healthy and Gourmet Teaching Kitchen provides a variety of ways to make healthy food choices. These include hands-on recreational cooking classes ranging from basic to more advanced, with a heavy focus on ‘Love Yourself Healthy Classes’. Classes run from 3 1/2 to 4 hours, and consist of a brief overview of the menu, a demo lecture, the cooking portion and lunch or dinner. Classes include:
- HEALTHY & GOURMET BASICS: Lose the concept that healthy eating is flavourless, by learning recipes that still pack big flavour — Vegetable Broth, Bell Pepper, Quinoa Pilaf, Green Cabbage & Mung Bean Slaw, Grilled Seasonal Fish and Grilled Fruit/Mango Puree and more.
- GONE FISHING!: Exploring the wide variety of fish in the Caribbean waters with Red Snapper en Papilotte, Cornmeal Crusted flat fish/Spicy Corn Salsa, and Bacalao Croquettes, with an accompaniment of Rice or Potatoes.
- SUPER SALADS: Put a new face on the boring conceptions of ‘salad’ with Italian Panzanella, Asian Style Salad/Chicken Satay & Ginger dressing, Grilled Shrimp/Tabbouleh, Warm Spinach/Bacon & Onions.
- FRENCHI-FIED: A selection of dishes from a few different regions in France… Soup au Pistou, Beef Simmered in Red Wine, Olive Tapenade, Warm Goat cheese Salad, Potato Gratin, Roasted Chicken, Glazed Onions.
- ITALIANO: Classic Italian dishes such as Antipasti, Chicken Marsala, Corn & Roasted Tomato Risotto, Spaghetti and Meatballs, Caprese Salad, Marsala Spiked Oranges.
- DIABETIC DIVAS & DIVOS!: Cooking specifically for diabetics that the entire household can enjoy, with items such as Toasted Millet & Arugula Salad/goat cheese, Tangled Carrot & Broccoli Salad, Apple Turkey Burgers, Cauliflower Capellini, Red Lentil Soup etc.
- HEALTHY & GOURMET LUNCH BOXES TOO: Providing a healthy lunchbox for your children is easier than you think with Grilled Chicken Strips/Potato Salad, Meatloaf Sandwiches, Broccoli Ham Calzones, Oatmeal Raisin Cookies, Smoothies, etc.
- CHICKEN 4 WAYS: If you are fresh out of ideas, come along to try some new recipes… Soy & Ginger Roasted Chicken, Chicken Caccatore, Herb Grilled Chicken Breast, and Moroccan Braised Chicken.
- MIN. TIME/MAX. FLAVOUR: Making the most of your time in a flavourful way is essential… learn to make Baked Eggs, Cous-Cous/Shrimp & Vegetables, Penne/Tomato & White Bean Sauce, Stir Fry Chicken & Broccoli.
- HOT & SPICY!: This class is not for the ‘faint of heart’, with Spicy Chicken Wings, Fish Cakes/ Spicy Remoulade, Cayenne Cheese Burgers, Chile, Jalapeño Cornbread & Almond Bread Pudding.
- A FEW HEALTHY QUICK BREADS: Quickbreads refer to any bread that you can put together in under ½ hr. or so, like pancakes, muffins, scones, biscuits etc.
Bianca Bianco Special EventsBeyond classes, Bianca Bianco also caters for special events such as:
- HANDS-ON COOKING PARTIES: A cooking party experience in a professional and fun environment. Ideal for corporate events, team building, or private celebrations such as: baby showers, friendly competitions, birthday and bachelorette parties. The half-day event includes a hands-on cooking class (appetizer, main course and dessert) and a full-service lunch or dinner.
- KIDS’ COOKING PARTY: The perfect environment to get kids to understand and appreciate good food. Accompanied by adults, they can celebrate special events such as birthdays or accomplishments. A special kid-friendly menu is tailored for your child and his/her friends to cook and enjoy. A snack and a juice bar is included, and adult refreshments may be ordered.
- PRIVATE CATERING: Bianca is classically trained and experienced in many cuisines. Reach out if you are the mood to try something you have never experienced before or maybe something you have had on one of your travels.
- DATE NIGHT: Want to really impress that ‘new interest’ or keep the ‘home fires burning’? Bianca will design a special menu, come to your home, prepare and serve you a four course meal, complete with wine choices or ‘breakfast in bed’ with Mimosas.
- GIFT CERTIFICATES: Give the gift of food for any special occasion to your family or friends. You may call the office to order a gift certificate and have it mailed directly to the recipient, or simply stop by to pick it up.
What You Need to Know
- Bianca’s healthy snacks such as biscotti and cookies can be found at health food stores in Trinidad such as Happy Gourmet and The M Store. She is also working on providing gluten-free options soon.
- Recipes will be provided for you to use in the Teaching Kitchen and to take home.
- Please keep in mind that the kitchen has a lot going on and it is advisable that you wear comfortable shoes and clothing. Please refrain from wearing open-toe shoes.
- All equipment will be considered a loan to you while you are on the premises. Full cooperation in respecting the equipment and property will be appreciated.
- If there are leftovers after a class, students may take it home. Respecting portion sizes is appreciated.
- Payment in full is due upon registering for a class. If withdrawal is unavoidable, a two week notice is required, with the exception in cases of a gift certificate. A 10% transaction fees will be deducted for every cancelled registration. If a class has to be dropped due to emergency or low enrollment, 4-7 days in advance, class credits will be issued to you. No credit or refund will be given to you if you cancel only two days or less in advance. Gift Certificates are transferrable, however are non-refundable.