I’ve been recently interviewed by Vogue Australia about Gelato and Ice cream trends in Australia, because in recent years, artisan iced treats have become a talking point, a social occasion and an incredibly profitable industry in this country.
They interviewed me because my shop in Brisbane, La Macelleria, has been named among the players that are leading the way in this industry.
Here you can find some questions with my answers:
1. Why do you think there is a current rise in artisanal ice cream and gelato culture? I think Gelato, if fresh and genuine is a great product that combine fats, proteins, sugars in a very balanced way. It is also the kind of product that creates “emotions”, specially it gives happines because it release endorphins so basically when you eat a good Gelato you feel great! What about the product and atmosphere of small shops is attracting lines of customers? As I said before is a very special product that if made to a certain level of quality (very high) people would queue for that. I also think that good Gelati shop are becoming more a destination rather than shops based on foot traffic where the purchasing habit is purely impulsive. People wants to spend time enjoying the Gelato with family, friends, the loved one, etc.
2. How do Australian gelato customers differ from Italian customers? Australia is the 3rd country in the world per ice cream consumption per capita, way more than italians. In Italy Gelato is a very seasonal product. In Australia I think we don’t have this factor, specially in Queensland. And it doesn’t matter if it’s cold or it’s a rainy day, they want Gelato anyway. In Italy if it’s a rainy day people don’t buy Gelato. Is there a difference in popular flavours between markets? Italy is very traditional so the most popular flavors are the big classics: Stracciatella (Choc-chip), Pistacchio, Nocciola (Hazelnut), Cioccolato (Chocolate). In Australia they prefer more ‘creative’ flavors and I think also sweeter flavors.
3. What differentiates really excellent artisanal gelato from something that is mass produced? Well, here we have to make 2 big distinctions. First one is between Gelato and Ice Cream. They are 2 different products, actually 2 different categories among the ‘Frozen Dessert’. I consider Gelato an Artisan product made from fresh ingredients on a daily basis in small batches and that respect certain parameters in terms of Milk Fats, Other Milk Solids, Sugars and Air incorporated. Ice Cream is an industrial product made from more powdered milk ingredients than fresh, it has almost double the fat content than Gelato and way more ‘Air’ incorporated. The second distinction is between Artisan Gelato and ‘Semi-Artisan’ Gelato. That has been a big dispute in Italy because real Gelato makers and Chef are arguing the fact that most of the Gelati Shops in Italy and around the world (more than 90%) use ‘semi-finished’ ingredients, pre-mixes and artificial or industrial flavors. Only very few shops can be considered Artisan, which means that ‘real’ Gelato should be produced following a controlled supply chain and guarantee of all individual ingredients used, selected one by one from the Gelato Maker/Gelato Chef according to the principle of ‘good, genuine, clean and fair’. I’m proud to be part of this minority of Gelato Chefs that follow this principles.
4. Besides having a really amazing tasting product, what are some other marketing tactics and in-store options that you offer to get customers in the door? Nowadays marketing is everything and product matters from 5% to 10% on the success of a business. If you have great marketing, you can have success even with a poor product (Do you think you can make a better hamburger than McDonalds? I think so). For me the product is important because my business is my passion and I try to communicate this passion to my customers, which they really appreciate. I know you have your Ape car — has this helped you spread the word about your store? Yes, the Ape Car is amazing, everybody loves that! In Italy is very common, specially in South Italy but in Australia most of the people never seen one before, so it really ‘catches’ the eye and the curiosity of people. It certainly helped to get more customers to the store.
5. What is your most popular flavour? Our most popular flavor is Salted Caramel (we make the Caramel from scracth in the store) but people is starting to appreciate a lot also the big classics like Pistacchio, Bacio (Chocolate with Hazelnuts) and Crema Bologna (typical eggs custard with lemon peel) because they know that we produce every single flavors. For example we roast hazelnuts, pistachios, almonds onsite and we make our own paste. Customers really appreciate that rather than some paste bought from some big Company tha most of the time is not 100% pure. At La Macelleria they know that if they order Hazelnut they will have an 100% pure hazelnuts flavor. What is your personal favourite flavour? My personal favourite is Crema Bologna: Crema was a classic dessert made by my grandmothers and recalls my childhood. A full and sophisticated taste thanks to the combination of aromas given by lemon peel and vanilla.
6. Do you think the small batch ice cream and gelato movement is a trend? The market is certainly growing but I think that in the long run real Artisan will survive rather than big chain or industrial fake Gelato store. I also think that people will always willing to spend few bucks for a moment of happiness. What steps are you taking to future-proof your business? keeping it authentic, keeping the promises of make a fresh, genuine good Gelato every single day and challenge myself to learn and improve.