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Gelato 'university' opens its doors

Gelatieri of the future are being taught the art and chemistry behind the classic Italian frozen dessert.
The classic Italian dessert is ready to be served.
The classic Italian dessert is ready to be served.

DUBAI // Nine entrepreneurs are learning the fine art of making the perfect Italian gelato. And their first lesson: do not call it ice cream.

The first graduates of the Carpigiani's "Gelato University" in Dubai completed their basic training yesterday, marking the first steps towards a future career as gelatieri.

It was the first time the Italian ice cream machine maker has hosted its popular accredited courses in the region. One student, a 29-year-old Lebanese national Nancy Salame, said she was considering leaving her career as a science teacher and starting a gelato shop in Dubai.

"The idea came when I visited Italy, and I saw a huge number of gelaterias over there and I realised that this is what I wanted to do," she said. "Making gelato is not that easy. It's about a lot of numbers and formulas. It's a bit like chemistry."

The course lasted three days and covered both theoretical and practical aspects. The three-day course, which cost €400 (Dh2,000) is much less intensive than the four-week professional option, which costs €2,800, and that runs regularly in the university's home campus in Bologna.

There are about 36,000 gelato shops in Italy and about 60 in Dubai. One of the most well-regarded is Cone Street, a Dubai-based firm that now has four branches across the city. Its founder, Lorenzo Salviomi, left a career in finance and took the four-week course in Bologna twice. He was at the graduation day yesterday at the Jebel Ali offices of Carpigiani's local partner Polo Point International, which acts as the university's Dubai campus.

"The majority of people don't come from gelato-making families," he said. "If you want to change your life, to change your career, then you have to learn from somewhere."

Carpigiani's head trainer this week in Dubai was Luciano Ferrari, a teacher of 35 years. "It takes a lifetime to be an expert," he said. "You should always have a curiosity about your ingredients and always looks to create new blends.

One of the first habits students have to grow out of is to not refer to gelato as "ice cream"; Carpigiani employees bristle at the word.

"Gelato is very different from ice cream," said Valentina Righi, the media relations manager for Carpigiani. "It contains much less fat. Making fresh gelato is also an art form."

Each of the three days were divided up into both theoretical and practical lessons, with students eventually being tested and graded. The qualification is internationally recognised and could count as credit towards a degree in food science.

The next three-day course will be held in March or April next year. Cristina Dalla Mora, marketing director of Carpigiani's partner Polo Point International, held out the prospect of the full four-week curriculum being run in Dubai.

"We eventually want to have Carpigiani's full range of courses available here," she said. There are now about 12,000 courses held around the world in locations as diverse as China and Indonesia.

This week's course had applicants from Bahrain, Syria, Kuwait and Lebanon. One student, 30-year-old Waheed Abul, said his new gelato shop would open next month in Bahrain and he wanted to get some additional training.

Although he was planning on using pre-mixed powder instead of mixing his own gelato, he thought it was important to get an insight into the gelato-making culture. "It's our first shop," he said, "so we don't know anything about gelato."


Updated: October 12, 2011 04:00 AM



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