Fearless Flavors

A taste for risk and courageous combos add up to biscuits that are not like your Mama’s
Photographs by Erin Marie Miller

Handmade. Fresh. Unique. These seem to be the staple ingredients for successful food entrepreneurs in metro Detroit. But Bianca Colbath wanted to venture beyond unique. She wanted to create something risky.

And while a buttermilk biscuit topped with ramen or mac and cheese may raise eyebrows, her courageous combinations may make you want to sing into a candlestick and dance like Tom Cruise.

Colbath, founder of Risky Biscuits, formed her idea three and half years ago while attending art school in New York. Although she was a longtime lover of food, her interests expanded after she worked a variety of jobs under chefs in small restaurants. “I just started cooking a lot in my spare time,” says the Ferndale resident.

She began baking biscuits in an attempt to pursue her now-wife Jessie James, one of the founders of Drought juice. James tasted a budding business and encouraged Colbath to market the idea. And although they disagree on who came up with the witty name, Colbath attributes it to wanting to bake biscuits that were offbeat and cutting edge — something that hadn’t been done before.

She began researching in New York, but eventually moved to Michigan to help with Drought. The idea was shelved until last spring, when Colbath began working with David Kirby of Parker Street Market in Detroit’s West Village, who was deciding which products to carry.

The market lets small businesses to sell their products and see how they do on the retail market. “Essentially, Bianca is the poster child for this,” Kirby says.

It started slow — a dozen or less biscuits and sandwiches three times a week. “I started on Saturdays, just bringing an array of biscuits and seeing what would sell,” Colbath says. “I got a pretty strong response.”

By July, shortly after her wedding, Colbath was able to make Risky Biscuits her full-time job. She began delivering the flaky creations Tuesday through Saturday to Parker Street Market and Eli Tea Bar in Birmingham. Colbath’s biggest days are on Saturdays, cooking up about 36 individual biscuits and sandwiches.

Colbath’s fearless flavors have quickly attracted fans — biscuits stacked with fried green tomatoes, smoked paprika mayo, pickled onions, and basil; or Dijon- and orange-glazed tempeh, roasted radicchio slaw, and fried eggs. Colbath is reluctant to do the same sandwich twice. “The possibilities are endless, so I don’t really want to repeat,” she says. (Although, the smashed beet and lemon goat cheese sandwich has been done more than once.)

Colbath has big plans, but not necessarily a brick-and-mortar location, “although I think it would do well,” she says. “It’s not really at the forefront of my ambitions.”

Instead, she rents space from Hopeful Harvest, a subsidiary of Forgotten Harvest, which offers services and resources to small food entrepreneurs. The plan is to expand with a line of frozen biscuits to be baked at home.

In a little more than a year, this weekend project has evolved into a promising business with a strong fan following of biscuit buffs. “They sell out very quickly,” Kirby says. “Even on our slowest days, I can all but guarantee that Risky Biscuits are going to be gone.”

For more information visit riskybiscuitsdetroit.com.