Lucia White is A Cook With A Drive To Help Others

Lucia White is A Cook With A Drive To Help Others

Creating spectacular teas as a community fundraisers

  • Feb. 13, 2019 10:00 a.m.

– Story by Angela Cowan Photography by Don Denton

Walking into Lucia White’s kitchen is a little like how I imagine heaven must feel.

Laid out on the table amidst cheerful yellow china and fresh roses are dainty tea sandwiches, sugar cookies with lemon curd, peanut butter brownies, a bowl of gorgeously coloured sugar cubes and an Italian almond celebration cake sitting regally on a stand.

Nearby, fresh sprigs of rosemary and lemons adorn the marble-topped island next to a bouquet of slender fennel breadsticks, a plate of almond anise biscotti and a traditional Italian olive oil cake.

Rosemary Olive Oil cake. Don Denton photography

Known in the community for her divine baking skills and tea spreads, as well as a passion for community involvement, Lucia herself is a vision in elegant black. On this day, her high-necked blouse is subtly striped with black velvet along the full sleeves, the collar clasped together with a cameo brooch. I have the sudden and distinct impression this woman should be commanding a sprawling estate, rather than the sweet little Sidney home she’s invited me into.

Almost immediately, she tells me about her mother, Dominique, who passed away last September.

“She was my total inspiration for everything I do here,” she says, showing me a lovely picture of her mom. “She was so kind.”

Lucia White’s Almond Anise Biscotti. Don Denton photography

Inspiration for the food, yes, but also a foundational part of Lucia’s drive to give of herself.

Lucia’s love affair with food and baking started at an early age, as she helped her mom in the kitchen.

“When we first moved to Canada, she couldn’t speak the language, so she’d ask for my help reading the recipes.”

Lucia moves to the side of the island as we chat, showing off the spread of ingredients for another olive oil cake, one of her signature dishes. Oil from her family’s farm in the south of Italy mixes with flour, chopped rosemary from her garden, eggs — the recipe is technically a secret, so I’ll stop there. Quick as a wink it’s in the oven and she’s moved on to rolling out Turdilli dough, a sort of spiced donut similar to gnocchi dough.

She’s been involved in some way giving back to her local community for years — participating annually in former employer Bayshore Home Health’s Hike for Hospice, for example — but it’s the last few years that her passion for involvement has intensified, largely due to the loss of several friends and loved ones.

“I just want to give back,” she says. “Whether it’s giving my time cooking for people who need it. Whatever’s needed.”

Lucia White’s Rosemary, Mint, Cumber and Fruit drink. Don Denton photography

Well-practiced at hosting spectacular teas since her daughter’s wedding shower in 2012, it was in 2017 that Lucia decided to take the event to the next level and host it as a community fundraiser.

“I’ve lost a lot of friends to cancer, so hospice was the first one we donated to,” she says, adding that her then-employer Bayshore provided much-welcome support. Stasia Hartley, area director, coordinated the company’s involvement, and Bayshore matched the $1,500 that Lucia raised through the tea.

Last year’s fundraiser was put on hold with her mother’s illness and Lucia’s intermittent travel, but she’s excited to hold the tea again this year, and has hopes of expanding it into a much larger event. Her current employers, Don and Joanne Gulevich of Coastal Heat Pumps, are interested in possibly acting as sponsors, and Lucia is actively looking for more support.

An array of teas sits on the counter from Janet’s Teas (“She’s just lovely. She’s such a community person too,” Lucia tells me.). And soon a pot of Earl Grey is steeping on the counter.

Then the oven beeps, and the olive oil cake emerges in a cloud of decadence, putting our conversation on pause. It is a thing of beauty, and Lucia places a slice in front of me, adorned with peeled orange and a light dusting of icing sugar. The flavour is incomparable. Delicately sweet and unbelievably moist, the subtle notes of rosemary blend beautifully with citrus, and at the very end, an unusual and most appealing herbal taste lingers from the olive oil.

Almond Anise Biscotti, coloured sugar cubes, strawberries and tea cups on the dining room table.. Don Denton photography

I tell Lucia, only half-joking, that I have to restrain myself from licking the crumbs from my plate, which makes her smile.

“I just feel so happy inside when I get to make it for people,” she says. “I know they all appreciate and enjoy it, and that makes my heart happy. That’s how I want my life to be, enjoying every moment with the people you love. This whole situation with my mom passing has really brought that home.”

She’s quick to shower love on those in her life who’ve helped and inspired her along the way: her mother, her husband Ken, her daughters Janine and Chelsey, her cooking “partner-in-crime” Laurie Salvador, even Kimberly Lewis-Manning, the designer who spent countless hours reinventing Lucia’s kitchen into its current sublime iteration.

The last forkful goes down all too soon. I’m left utterly satisfied, but longing for more. And for more than just tasty treats, as well. I’m inspired not only to go back to my own kitchen and break out my mixing bowls, but perhaps to look around my own neighbourhood and see how I might contribute my time, my own passions. And it’s a good feeling. Almost as good as that cake.

Lucia White’s tea cups on her dining room table.. Don Denton photography

charitycookingPeninsula

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Demonstrators lined Hwy 16 May 5 to mark the National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. (Deb Meissner photo)
VIDEO: Smithers gathering marks Red Dress Day honouring missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls

Approximately 70 people lined Hwy 16, drumming, singing and holding up placards

“Skeena,” by John Hudson and Paul Hanslow is one of five fonts in the running to become the default for Microsoft systems and Office programs. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Font named after Skeena River could become the next Microsoft default

One of the five new fonts will replace Calibri, which has been Microsoft’s default since 2007

The road to Telegraph Creek (Hwy 51) was closed April 15 due to a washout. On May 4, the road was opened to light-duty passenger vehicles during specific times. (BC Transportation and Infrastructure/Facebook)
Telegraph Creek Road opens for light-duty vehicles

Road has been closed since April 15 due to a washout

Gitxsan Nation extends fishing ban for non-Indigenous permit holders indefinitely . (Photo courtesy, Travis Murphy)
Gitxsan Nation extends ban for non-Indigenous fishing permit holders across their territory

The move comes after the province backed away from ongoing discussions with Gitxsan chiefs and DFO

(The Canadian Press)
Trudeau won’t say whether Canada supports patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines

‘Canada is at the table to help find a solution’

The body of Brenda Ware, 35, was found along Highway 93 in Kootenay National Park on Thursday, May 6, 2021. (RCMP handout)
RCMP ask for tips after woman’s body found in Kootenay National Park

Brenda Ware was found along Highway 93 in the park, 54 kilometres north of the town of Radium

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

People pass the red hearts on the COVID-19 Memorial Wall mourning those who have died, opposite the Houses of Parliament on the Embankment in London, Wednesday, April 7, 2021. On May 3, the British government announced that only one person had died of COVID-19 in the previous 24 hours. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Kirsty Wigglesworth
For a view of a COVID-19 future, Canadians should look across the pond

Britain, like Canada, is one of the only countries in the world to delay second doses for several months

Edmonton Oilers’ Connor McDavid (97) celebrates his 100th point this season with Leon Draisaitl (29) against the Vancouver Canucks during second period NHL action in Edmonton on Saturday, May 8, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Edmonton superstar McDavid hits 100-point mark as Oilers edge Canucks 4-3

NHL scoring leader needs just 53 games to reach century mark

Nuns of Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity, carry some of her relics during a vigil of prayer in preparation for the canonization of Mother Teresa in the St. John in Latheran Basilica at the Vatican, Friday, Sept. 2, 2016. In which city did she do much of her charitable work? (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
QUIZ: How much do you know about these motherhood issues?

In honour of Mother’s Day, take this 10-question quiz

A map showing where the most number of cases were recorded from April 23 to 29. This map, revealing a breakdown of infections by neighborhood, was pulled from a data package leaked to the Vancouver Sun last week (and independently verified).
36 Abbotsford schools flagged for COVID-19 exposures in the last 2 weeks, shattering record

Clearbrook Elementary recorded an ‘exposure’ on all 11 school days

Most Read