On the cusp of his latest culinary conquest, Michelin-starred chef Michael White (@chefbianco) reflects on major milestones and dishes on the opening of Paranza—his fine dining experience serving up coastal Italian cuisine at Atlantis Paradise Island (atlantisbahamas.com).
Chef Michael White serves up his signature coastal Italian cuisine with an artistry toward ingredientdriven cooking at Paranza.
To begin, can you walk us through your culinary history? My father has always been a great home cook. I loved being in the kitchen with him when growing up—he was always whipping up something fantastic. I grew up in Wisconsin; the winters were absolutely freezing, so I found myself spending hours and hours in the kitchen making breads, soups and other recipes. Cooking soon became my true passion, and I knew deep down that it would eventually become my career. When I told my dad that I was going to be a chef, he responded with equal parts enthusiasm and concern: ‘Fantastic, but how are you going to make a living?’
Throughout my career, I’ve opened an array of restaurants around the country, garnered three stars from The New York Times, five simultaneous Michelin Stars, Esquire and GQ Best New Restaurants in America, and a number of James Beard Foundation nominations. This summer, I’ve been focusing on opening my latest restaurant, Paranza at Atlantis Paradise Island in Nassau, Bahamas.
Paranza’s expansive dining room is complete with earthy hues of cerused oak, smoky blues and bright cognacs
Are there any milestone moments you can share with us?
My first Michelin Guide Star was awarded in 2006 at 30 years old, and, soon after, my first three stars by The New York Times—I’m a lucky guy and have many milestones. Opening Paranza is my latest milestone in my career. This restaurant holds particular importance as it marks my first venture since establishing BBianco Hospitality, a company dedicated to innovative and exceptional cuisine. This is the most important opening for me since Marea. The Bahamas already feels like a second home.
Brioche-crusted strawberry grouper and cipollini with fennel and saffron brodetto.
Let’s talk about Paranza. What can guests expect from the restaurant this summer?
I have been spending a tremendous amount of time at Paranza making sure that we deliver on creating unforgettable experiences for our guests. Award-winning design studio Jeffrey Beers International created Paranza’s design that is inspired by both the Bahamas’ gorgeous, vibrant azure waters and white sand beaches, and Italy’s dramatic coastline and sophisticated communities. We are fortunate to be able to use extraordinary local products such as conch and grouper. We get the freshest seafood delivered to the restaurant every morning.
You can have different experiences here. Guests can come in for a special occasion with their family and enjoy the full menu with multiple courses—from crudo to pasta and entrees—or if you are just in the mood for a casual dinner, you can have a simple homemade pasta with a great glass of wine. We want Paranza to be an extension of your home—some nights you want to sit at the dining room table and others in the kitchen.
Squid ink linguine with mixed seafood, Calabrian chili paste and breadcrumbs
You have had an extremely impressive lineup of restaurants already under your belt. What’s something guests can always expect when dining at one of your new restaurants?
Crudo—an Italian preparation of raw fish— and homemade pastas for sure. The common thread that ties all my restaurants together is a warm, inviting and elegant space making one feel special and entranced, yet comfortable at the same time. Creating community is paramount. I’m originally from Wisconsin, and so I can’t help my Midwestern roots shine through in the spaces I work in. This is the only way I know how to be—everyone is welcome and will feel right at home at Paranza.
Strawberry semifreddo with nougat with caramel
Do you have a specific menu item you’re most excited about?
I am a big fan of the conch dish that I created for Paranza. Taking this seafood that is inherently Bahamian and blending it with Italian flavors is really exciting for me. As we were preparing to open Paranza, we were shooting images of the menu in the dining room and one of the local photographers said to me, ‘Chef, what kind of fish is this?’ I said it was conch—he couldn’t believe it—and then tasted it and said, ‘I’ve never seen conch prepared like this before, and it’s amazing!’
How does Paranza stand out from other Atlantis restaurants?
Paranza is a love letter to Italy offering innovative Italian regional cuisine in a fine dining setting at The Cove, the resort’s elegant all-suite retreat. All of the dining experiences at Atlantis are unique and offer a nod to the Bahamas. I think it is so fabulous that the resort has thoughtfully designed a variety of dining experiences for guests and the local community that incorporate local flavors and customs. Joining such an accomplished group of chefs like José Andrés and Nobu Matsuhisa is really a highlight of my career.