In this week’s special post I had the chance to pose some questions to talented cook, Luisa Melandri, co-founder of Whisk & Scoop with Alessandra Bianco who brings authentic tastes, aromas and gastro- experiences all the way to Antwerp, from her home country of Italy- delizioso!
Hi, Luisa! Where are you from and what brings you to Antwerp?
I’m from Ravenna, a small city in Emilia Romagna.
I arrived in Belgium almost 10 years ago with my family, accompanying my husband who came to work here.
I know you have always been a food-lover. But when and why did you decide to turn it into a business?
I’m definitely a food lover, especially good food! My family and the people in my life – in Italy and Belgium – have always appreciated my cooking style: simple and traditional. Living abroad, I couldn’t help but notice that even what was branded as Italian was not always truly so. So, I asked myself why not try to share my simple and traditional approach with others?
One of the things I’m known for is my ragù; commonly known here as Bolognese sauce. This is actually what started it all. I make it for others like I would do for my family: fresh, simple, flavourful and full of love – the qualities which make Italian food so good! So, when I met Alessandra, who also shares these values, we thought why not spread the love? And that’s how Whisk & Scoop was born!
Tell me about what Whisk & Scoop does.
Whisk & Scoop is how we bring a little bit of Italy to our community, and we want everyone to know what that’s like! While I (the scoop) mainly deal with savoury dishes, Alessandra (the whisk) does desserts and sweet treats. She’s quite the artist, making beautiful and delicious cakes, pastries and cupcakes. My specialty is lasagna, which at this point in the year will warm your heart and your belly.
Our main activity at the moment is preparing food on request. Lately we have also organised small lunches and tasting sessions where we show our customers how to prepare simple, traditional dishes from various regions of Italy. We began by preparing pasta with pesto and farinata from Liguria. Our next session will be inspired by Piemonte, as Alessandra is from Torino. We’ll be preparing bagna caudia and porcini risotto. All the recipes we prepare have been passed down from generations, and with Alessandra’s roots from Campania and mine from Toscana, we can guarantee authenticity and tradition.
Do you think food has a special role in bringing people together? How does that work in expat communities?
We say that people are happiest at the dinner table with good food, good company and good wine. I believe food brings people together, which is the basis of our culture and many others and this is what we want our customers to experience. Especially in expat communities, it is the elements of assimilation and cultural exchange that allow others to get to know a little more about yourself and vice versa. What you like says a lot about yourself and -as the saying goes- you are what you eat!
Which of your dishes are especially popular with customers?
My specialty, as mentioned, is lasagna while Alessandra’s is crostata, a jam tart. What’s also very popular at the moment are her egg-free treats.
If you could choose one dish that you love, or which represents you, what would it be?
The dish I love most is rigatoni with a good tomato sauce because it’s simple, nourishing & filling.
Give us a quick, easy recipe to enjoy over the festive season!
Nonna Leon’s Pasta ai Fagioli
1. Finely minced parsley, 1 garlic clove and half an onion and fry them in 3 tbsps of olive oil until golden.
2. Add half a can of borlotti beans, 1.5L of water and 3 tbsps of tomato paste
3. Cook for 30 minutes on medium-high heat
4. Using a hand-mixer, blend until smooth
5. Add the remaining borlotti beans and Maltagliati pasta and cook for 10 minutes
6. Season to taste and plate up!
All pics courtesy of Whisk & Scoop
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