A few words about Bianca
Almost a year ago, I met with a group of four friends to try writing an article about their common dream to create community and illuminate the city through an inclusive winebar/bookstore/cafe. A few minutes into the chat, it became overwhelmingly evident that there was nothing about these four souls that was ordinary. It wasn’t the plethora of Masters degrees among them or the extremely well-studied concept they proposed, it was this sense of palpable power their union had bestowed upon them. There’s a power that grows within people as they realize that their life experiences have prepared them for a certain moment in time. If anyone embodies that tenet, it’s Bianca Sanon. The article didn’t come to fruition, but I’m grateful it was my introduction to Bianca - whose growth and leadership are unstoppable.
Bianca grew up with the measure of intellectual and physical discipline that one needs to get recruited to play tennis at Columbia University. After college, she found herself in the right place, surrounded by the right people at Semilla restaurant in Williamsburg, Brooklyn when it received its Michelin star. The Somm at the time gave her a stack of tech sheets when she expressed her interest in learning about wine and Bianca has them to this day, dog-eared and organized in a three ring binder. Currently the Somm herself at the new restaurant Boia De, she’s an advocate of low intervention wine and is always ready to help patrons expand their palates and horizons.
But there’s so much more to Bianca than wine. Wine is just one part of the whole person. She’s equal parts equality, inclusion, community, ecology - she makes me so proud and hopeful for the future of our city and our nation. Read on to learn about rising star Bianca in her own words below.
3 Questions for Bianca
What Are You Doing?
- I am the general manager and sommelier at Boia De, a new restaurant in Little Haiti. I’ve been working with Alex and Luci since January when they first brought me on in the very nascent stages of Boia De, and I'm thankful to work with such kindhearted and talented chefs. My responsibilities include everything from Maître D to Beverage Director to General Manager, and I’ve been lucky enough to join the small but solid rank of industry professionals who are committed to the ethos of low intervention winemaking and make it as accessible as possible for the Miami dining community. When I’m not working, I try and spend my time reading, cooking, studying and trying to be more active in the Miami community.
Outside of Boia De, my partner, his sister and her partner all tend to have a lot of impromptu dinner parties at our house, getting together with our friends as often as we can. I know the word community gets thrown around a lot in conversations when it comes to thinking about the scope or impact you’re trying to make, but when I think about community I’m trying to describe more than just a group of people that tend to share space with one another or some sort of audience that I'm trying to reach. I like to imagine "community" as a group of people who are focusing on fostering a level of camaraderie and a kind of codependency/mutual support for each other that surpasses a happenstance occurrence of getting together. I want to make sure that we’re not just all getting together, but really taking care of one another.
I think that this level of attention to each other and our needs is really the kind of energy that we’re trying to put into the space that we’re planning on creating. We hope to open a café/bookstore/wine bar that focuses on a lot of progressive texts focusing on subjects like feminism, black studies, decolonization, environmentalism, and other similar topics. We also envision having community building events, and also practical workshops surrounding self-sufficiency and survival skills that can stem from gardening to bread making to preserving to learning how to become more involved in activist groups around Miami.
And also lots of wine.
Who Are You Doing It For?
-Everything that I choose to do, I do it to see a Miami that I want to be proud of and a part of through inclusive community building. Creating a space where people feel at home and welcome. I feel like I do the same in my own home. Lately, I’ve had people tell me how well I hold space for others, and I'm really trying to foster that gift and spread it through all facets of my life. I don’t really want to ever get on my high horse and say that whatever I’m doing is for the community around me or anyone outside of myself because I am just one person and I can’t decide what other people want. I also feel like it’s unfair to claim that what I’m doing is what other people are asking for. I am just trying to create, or rather help create the Miami environment that I myself want to live in and be a part of. What I want is to be able to participate in the movement of creating a Miami that I would like to see and that I believe my family & friends can thrive in, as well as the the people that I want to surround myself with.
I was recently speaking with Alex and Luci, and what’s amazing about Boia De is that we are actively cultivating a space where people from different backgrounds can feel welcomed and comfortable, where they don’t feel alienated or find the space inaccessible to them. People from different backgrounds can come in and enjoy themselves to whatever extent they are able to or want to, and I want to be able to cultivate a space where someone can come in and have a really nice dinner and celebrate their 50th anniversary or just come in for a glass of wine after a really difficult day at work and both situations are possible; having a part in that is a great feeling for me personally. I also recognize my position as a Haitian American woman in a management and decision-making position at a restaurant that is putting out high quality food, and I think that’s a pretty good reason to do what i’m doing as well.
As far as our concept is concerned, the question of “For what?” is interesting because on the one hand, and very similarly to the energy behind Boia De, we simply just want to create a space that we would have wanted to go to when we would come home from college while living in New York, or just a place for us to hang out at. As I’ve gotten older I realize that the kind of space that we’re trying to create is so necessary for folks our age that are interested in the specific things we are interested in and creating a safe space for people to just exist and sit and relax and not feel pressured to spend a bunch of money in order to stay. In some ways, it’s a community space, or a social club.
What Drives You To Do It?
- As much as I enjoy simple things, especially cooking at home, I also very much enjoy going out to eat. I love the energy at a dinner table when everyone is starving and can’t wait for the first dish to come out. I love the feeling of going to a new place, getting excited about the wine list, and anxiously going over the menu. I also really, really love food. Being at Boia De and fostering that sense of love for food and for dining out, I truly find so much joy in seeing people from such diverse backgrounds being able to come in and enjoy themselves. The feeling of inclusive spaces, spaces where people feel held and supported and comfortable, is a huge driving factor for me.
Throughout my life i have experienced that feeling of comfort through food and gatherings around good food and wine. Having the opportunity to run the front of house at Boia De has allowed me to practice that gift of holding space for others by making sure that anyone who comes through the door feels welcomed and taken care of. Helping folks navigate the menu and wine list so it doesn’t seem so inaccessible is my favorite thing, because ultimately people know what they like, and they want to leave satisfied, and it is the job of the front of house team to translate, build trust, and bring people in. Building an inclusive space is just as important to me as building a really successful restaurant, and in a lot of ways, I don’t see how one should, or could, exist without the other. I often find that gathering together over food and wine can be some of the most intimate moments, and being able to foster that kind of energy through my amazing staff and coworkers is something of a rarity and i am grateful to have a hand in it.