Calling gelatieri all around the world! The first-ever Gelato Olympics have begun.
During the next year and a half, eight cities around the world will host the competition which will see selected gelato artisans fight to win the jury’s and the public’s love for the winning flavor that will take 40 of them to the Rimini finals, where, in September 2014, they will compete for the title of “World’s Best Gelatiere”.
And of course it was Italy, birthplace of gelato, that started off the Gelato World Tour (official name of the Olympics), with the first leg of the competition taking place on the beautiful Terrazza del Pincio on May 3-5. 130,000 people attended, 5.700 kg of gelato were produced. Four gelatieri were selected for the finals with the first place going to the “Grumpy Heart” flavor (Cuor di Brontolo in Italian).
During each leg of the tour, which includes one in the U.S., precisely in Chicago, Aug. 30 to Sept. 2, the public has the chance to attend mini-lessons on the art of gelato making, discover the history of gelato, watch how gelato is made and – most important maybe – taste all kinds of gelato flavors!
The mission of the Gelato World Tour is in fact to bring the culture of artisan gelato, a symbol of Italian excellence and creativity, to the rest of the world.
Learn the art of gelato making
A mission shared by Carpigiano Gelato University, organizer of the event. Carpigiani, based in Anzola dell’Emilia near Bologna, was founded by the Carpigiani brothers in 1945 and has become one of the biggest producers of gelato-making machines worldwide. In 2003, Carpigiani established Carpigiani Gelato University, whose mission is to make artisan gelato known and appreciated all over the world by teaching aspiring gelatieri the art and craft of artisan gelato, one of the many culinary prides of Italy. The course also provides marketing and management notions, to form the future gelato entrepreneurs.
Gelateria: a fruitful business
Having a gelateria can be a fruitful business: while 1 kg of gelato costs around €2 to make, it is sold at €15-18/kg and the initial investment is relatively low, at roughly €100,000. Moreover, the market for artisan gelato is big: except for Italy, where artisan gelato stands at 60% of the market compared to 40% of industrial ice-cream, abroad, artisan gelato covers only 2% of the market. Half of the students at CGU are in fact foreigners (courses are taught in different languages, including English). Every year, thousands of Italian and international students arrive in Anzola dell’Emilia to attend the course in the hope of opening a gelato parlor either back home or in some other part of the world where they wish to move. There are people who are unemployed and see this as a way to get a job, but there are also those who have a regular job and wish to change their lives completely. Interestingly enough, enrollments at the school have doubled since the beginning of the economic crisis in 2008.
Gelato and ice-cream: it’s not the same!
The general English translation for gelato is ice-cream, which makes no distinction between industrial ice-cream and fresh, artisan ice-cream. However, there are important differences between the two: gelato is less fat and contain less air than ice-cream and it is served at a higher temperature. These factors give gelato a much richer taste than ice-cream. In addition, gelato offers a wider variety of flavors compared to ice-cream; and it is made with fresh ingredients in smaller quantities, as it never uses the long-life ingredients that industrial ice-cream, produced in large quantities for supermarkets, employs.
Gelato: it’s good for you
The ingredients used to make gelato – water, milk, eggs, cream, sugar, cocoa, fruit and more – determine its high nutritional value. Those ingredients provide proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and minerals, making gelato a wholesome food. Milk provides high-quality proteins and calcium; lactose and saccharose, the sugars used in gelato, provide a good source of energy, as do fats. Gelato also contains vitamins A and B2, as well as phosphorus. Gelato has a better nutritional intake than a sandwich (now you know what to eat on your next lunch break). The importance of gelato as a healthy and all-around food is such that the University of Bologna, in collaboration with Carpigiani Gelato University, has established a one-week course granting college credits that focuses on the beneficial effects of gelato on our health, both of the body and mind.
So, forget those guilty feelings, gelato is good for you!
Silvia Donati is a freelance journalist from Bologna, Italy. She writes about her hometown and surrounding region of Emilia-Romagna on her website, www.bolognauncovered.com.