James Beard Award-winning pizzaiolo, Chris Bianco, of Arizona's famed Pizzeria Bianco recently announced that he would be taking a break from oven work at at his pizzeria due to some issues with asthma. Ed Levine and Adam Kuban from Serious Eats have been following the story on Slice.
He says in his statement at Slice, "One way or another I will figure out a way to stay engaged in the intense conversation I've been having with people who have come to Pizzeria Bianco all these years. How that happens remains to be seen. Trust me, I'm working on it. Because my heart and soul are still in every pie served at Pizzeria Bianco."
Chef Bianco has made it very clear that he is not retiring. During Chef Bianco's hiatus his brother, Marco, will be on dough duty. Horacio Hernandez, Bianco's assistant, will man the modest and rustic looking brick oven. Marco and Horacio have been involved in Pizzeria Bianco for a while now, so this wont be a huge change although Chris will surely be missed. There is a reported three hour wait for a table at Pizzeria Bianco and they don't take reservations.
I gotta say, I feel for Chef Bianco. ASTHMA SUCKS! I have asthma also, and I've also had problems with smoky ovens in my pizza making experience. I'm not even close to level of floury dust and smoke from wood fired ovens as Bianco (or any other professional pizzaiolo) is. I love making pizza and I would hate for a doc to tell me to stay out of the kitchen.
Sheesh. I'm having nightmares for Chef Bianco of my elementary school D.A.R.E. officer with that smoke-blackened lung in a jar saying "This is what happens when you make pizza" Oof! Or ridiculous images of him in his chef coat with a respirator on.
My unsolicited advice to Chef Bianco is apple cider vinegar. When I was having really bad problems with my asthma I saw this wacky infomercial about holistic remedies. I looked up holistic remedies for asthma and I found rave reviews for apple cider vinegar. multiple websites and hippies on forums recommended taking a shot of the tangy stuff every day, or mixing it into a cup of juice or water or a little honey. I got a bottle and... bottoms up. I took a shot. To be honest it wasn't unlike taking a shot of rail whiskey. Warm and burning down my throat.
The apple cider vinegar helped me a lot. It almost instantly relieved my asthma symptoms and it also relieved my acid reflux (which also triggers asthma and is an unfortunate side effect of eating pizza). Chef Bianco, grab a bottle and take a swig. Maybe it will even inspire a new pie with apple cider vinegar on top. Maybe not.
Bianco is a pizza rock star and I want his pizza! I offer my warmest and most sincere wishes for a speedy recovery and success getting his asthma under control. Chef Bianco, be well and make pizza!