proust questionnaire 5.0: Ani Cioffi will take your order now

February 11, 2013

I miss Ani. Ani Cioffi was our office mom, who not only could listen like no one else, but also baked a mean lemon poppyseed  loaf. Oh and the mini cheesecakes. And the… Like I said, we miss Ani.

But she has left the nest of The Gazette in favour of her home bakery and catering business, Biscotti & Dolci, and also to work at the beloved cooking and housewares store Williams Sonoma which, thank GOD, is finally in Montreal via Carrefour Laval. I caught her before she emptied her desk, sniff sniff!!, and made her submit to the Proust Q 5.0 (What’s this? Scroll down for a little background.) Here are her answers. Best wishes to you Ani. And let me know about the next sale, wouldya?

Since we are conducting this interview via email, the world is ours for the inventing. If, as I some day hope, money is no object, in what city and establishment would you like this interview to be taking place? Italy! In Capri, the Amalfi coast, overlooking the ocean, on a beautiful terrace.

Who and what would you be wearing? Something white and crisp…(not black for a change! ) Perhaps, a beautiful outfit from my sister’s boutique, San Remo, at Peel and Sherbrooke!

And, most importantly, what would we be drinking? A wonderful chilled white wine or a lovely sangria with lots of fresh fruit.

Okay then. What are the qualities you most admire in others? Strength, loyalty, sincerity, compassion and a great sense of humour. Being there through thick and thin! Also to see a passion for something they love!

What do you like most about yourself? I am told that I am pretty strong, a survivor, have a very positive outlook in life and the ability to make the best of a given situation, and make it work, whatever it might be! A very big heart! Extremely giving! And always being there no matter what for those I love. Good sense of humor (and need I say, a passion for baking!)

Least? I can be a little bit impatient at times….

What is your greatest achievement? My two sons are my treasures in life. And enjoying 30 years of marriage in September 2012 with my hubby! We are still having fun! I feel blessed.

What is your more treasured possession? Cards that my mom (who passed away 20 years ago) wrote to me on different occasions telling me how proud she was and what a good job I was doing with the kids, even though they were still very young. Her handwriting was beautiful and her chosen words even more so… I take them out every so often and it feels like she is there. Also, the beautiful paintings that my mom used to paint. I also love to collect wonderful cookbooks.

What is your present state of mind? Looking forward to new challenges around the corner!

Where and when are/were you happiest? When I have the whole family / my best friends all gathered around my table enjoying something wonderful that I have made with love for them, laughing a lot… This makes me feel blessed.

What, currently, do you most love doing? I love to travel! We have been on several cruises with friends and family. They have been so memorable! I love baking of course! I love to read fun books, lately about people in the food / restaurant business and of course really great cookbooks! Also, making an awesome meal with the kids and their beautiful girlfriends, all of us in the kitchen, experimenting, and admiring how grown up they all are! They are such interesting and great kids! They make me so proud!

What was your worst job? Working at a notary’s office one summer. I tried it out to see if I would be interested in following that path one day. It was not for me!

Your favourite colour? Black….and white too!

What is your idea of perfect happiness? Having no financial or health worries, to have the kids close by, and to continue to be there for them, and to be able to travel often! Hopefully, to have many more years of the wonderful journey with my hubby.

Of misery? Worrying too much about everything!

If not yourself, who or what would you be? I would love to apprentice with some great chefs and expand my culinary knowledge.

Where would you like to live? We have really happy memories in our present home, but I would really enjoy a cottage by the ocean with my family.

What is your favourite journey? To travel to Italy! I have also enjoyed cruising in the Caribbean very much!

What is your favourite or most memorable meal and when is the last time you indulged? We love to celebrate special occasions with the family at a lovely high end refined Greek restaurant. Their food is exquisite and very fresh! We were there last year on our anniversary!

Name the person who influenced you most and how. My parents were very strong people, true survivors really. They came to Canada from the Middle East, with four young children, to give us a better life! One grandmother refused to come to Canada. That must have been so difficult. They had lost some family members in the [Armenian] genocide, sacrificed so much, and lived through two world wars. Their hard work ethic, dedication to helping family and many other new comers to Canada, lots of love and great cuisine are some of the gifts we have inherited, and pass on to our own kids. I hope they see us from heaven and that we have made them proud. How sad that my dad passed away at 52 years of age. He did not see any of us get married, or meet his grandchildren. My mom, a school principal, passed away at 82 years of age, truly an amazing woman! Watching her paint beautiful paintings in both watercolor and oil… She would always try to make us see the color and beauty in nature around us.

Name the book that influenced you most and why? Reading many great cookbooks over the years, have really inspired me to follow my passion… I’m looking forward to expanding www.biscottidolci.com.

In this or any time, which real-life figure(s) do you most admire? Being the youngest of four children, my siblings were great examples to follow. I also admire the way my kids have grown up. They are both wonderful young men, Anthony, 29, and Christopher, 25. I am so very proud of them!

What fault can you most easily forgive? Forgetfulness.

Not forgive? Insincerity and lying.

What is your motto? This too shall pass. And life is short. Enjoy each moment and be kind to each other.

How would you hope to die? Peacefully, without suffering, in my sleep, surrounded by my loved ones.

Anything I haven’t asked about that you’d like to volunteer? I wished I had asked my parents more about family that was lost in the genocide, etc. I did not want to bring up any sad memories for them. I was busy raising my kids and working full time and now those stories are gone with them..

Any last words? After 32 years at The Gazette, I am looking forward to what the future holds! I hope that it will be filled with many joyous occasions! And I have just the right cake for that!

Admit it. You read those celebrity Q&As and you know you’re easily as worthy of being profiled. I know I do, but my friends are way more interesting. So, with nods to the “confession albums” of the late 1800s  made famous by the fabulous Marcel Proust’s answers, to French TV host Bernard Pivot who adapted the questionnaire, to Inside the Actors Studio host James Lipton who gave it another spin and to Vanity Fair (which now invites you to participate in a new interactive PQ!), which uses its own elegantly spun version to anchor the magazine’s back pages, I submit for your entertainment and enlightenment, my own version of the Proust Questionnaire, re-retooled for a blog age.


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