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

Design rendering for the proposed Coldstream Community Centre. An advisory committee will make a decision on the latest site plan Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021. (Sahuri & Associates rendering)
Coldstream committee to review latest designs for new community centre

Design renderings have been released for the centre that would add 84 local child care spaces

A sign indicating a COVID-19 testing site is displayed inside a parking garage in West Nyack, N.Y., Monday, Nov. 30, 2020. The site was only open to students and staff of Rockland County schools in an effort to test enough people to keep the schools open for in-person learning. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
4 more deaths, 54 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

This brings the total to 66 deaths in the region

Vernon now has an approved 13 cannabis shops in town. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
Vernon, the ‘Pot capital of B.C.’ greenlights two new stores downtown

Two more shops, within 240 metres, approved, despite neighbouring businesses opposition

One of the two bees sculptures stolen from Vernon’s Planet Bee Honey Farm and Honeymoon Meadery Nov. 22, 2020, was retuned Jan. 26, 2021, thanks to a tip from the public. (Facebook)
Stolen bee returned to Vernon honey farm

Two months after thieves buzzed off with two bee sculptures, public tips led police one of them

Vernon North Okanagan RCMP Superintendent Shawna Baher presents Lisa Rands, of Endbery, a certificate of appreciation after she went above and beyond at the scene of a multi-vehicle collision that closed Highway 97A Jan. 6, 2021, for several hours. (RCMP)
Mounties laud woman for help at fatal crash near Enderby

Vernon RCMP honour Enderby woman for taking care of children involved in collision

Dr. Penny Ballem, a former deputy health minister, discusses her role in leading B.C.’s COVID-19 vaccination program, at the B.C. legislature, Jan. 22, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C. holds steady with 407 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday

14 deaths, no new outbreaks in the health care system

11 more cases of COVID-19 have been linked to a cluster on Big White Mountain. Pictured above is TELUS park at Big White Ski Resort, Jan. 26. (Big White Ski Resort)
11 more cases of COVID-19 linked to Big White cluster

This brings the total case count to 225, according to health authorities in a Tuesday update

Jonathon Muzychka and Dean Reber are wanted on Canada-wide warrants. (Courtesy of Victoria Police Department)
Convicted killer, robber at large after failing to return to facility: Victoria police

Dean Reber, 60, and Jonathon Muzychka, 43, may be together

Oliver Elementary School
Former Oliver PAC treasurer charged with fraud returns to court

Belinda Yorke will be in court to fix a date for trial in February

B.C. Premier John Horgan listens during a postelection news conference in Vancouver on Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
30% of B.C. recovery benefit applications held up in manual review

The province says 150 staff have been reassigned to help with manually reviewing applications

Adam Dergazarian, bottom center, pays his respect for Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna, in front of a mural painted by artist Louie Sloe Palsino, Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Kobe Bryant’s presence remains strong a year after his death

Tuesday marks the grim anniversary of the crash that took their lives

Alexandra “Annabelle” Lee and her grandpa Bryan Weightman enjoyed a shopping spree at the Sicamous Askew’s foods location after Weightman won a draw for a gift card. (Submitted)
Sicamous seven-year-old fills grandparents’ shopping cart after contest win

When her grandparents won an Askew’s Foods gift card, Alexandra Lee got to handle the shopping

Surrey RCMP are investigating after a pedestrian was struck and killed at 183 Street and Highway 10 Friday night. (File photo)
The Brucejack mine is 65 km north of Stewart in northwestern B.C. (Pretivm Photo)
B.C. mine executives see bright gleam in post-COVID future

Low carbon drives demand for copper, steelmaking coal

Most Read