Engineering gelato flavours with twist
Picture: Supplied

Think Italian gelato and raspberry, pistachio or chocolate might be the flavours that spring to mind. But what about kaffir lime and coconut? Peanut butter and jelly? Rockmelon with prosciutto flakes? Or banana with cookies and toffee - a "banoffee".

They're some of the flavours created by Chicho Gelato, a new Perth-based gelato producer and the brainchild of Cesare "Chez" De Bartolo and his wife Carly and will feature at The Good Food & Wine Show's WA Artisan Lane.

"You need to have your classic flavours but we like to experiment and marry some odd and interesting combinations that really make people think," Mr De Bartolo said.

"We had a lemongrass and ginger flavour that one lady told us sounded disgusting. We made her try it and she ended up buying two."

For WA Day last month, Chicho Gelato devised a lamington gelato comprising coconut with chocolate flakes, boysenberry with toasted and shredded coconut and toasted almond.

It sold out.

"Food in general is a passion of ours and gelatos are a great way for us to express our creativity," Mr De Bartolo said. "It's very exciting when you can create all these flavours yourself."

He's a mechanical engineer by profession, his wife a pharmacist.

They've spent four years recently living in the UK, and say they were wowed by the resurgence of start-up restaurants and cafes in London.

On the way back to Perth, they stopped off in Italy to study gelato making in Bologna and they also visited Sicily where they spotted the distinctive gelato carts patrolling the beaches.

"They just looked fantastic," Mr De Bartolo said.

"They've been making these carts for 60 years and have modernised their refrigeration so they can run for up to six hours without power once they're charged.

"We thought it would be a fantastic way for us to begin a business without having the rigmarole of opening a shop, as we didn't know who our target market would be. We could take our gelato direct to the public."

They bought one of the carts, named it Frank, and set up a company last summer they called Chicho Gelato. Chicho derives from the Italian word "ciccio".

"It's what you call cheeky children while giving their cheek a twist," Mr De Bartolo said.

"This is our ethos - making artisan gelato that transports you to your first real gelato moment as a child, while twisting the flavours."

The couple makes their gelato in a commercial kitchen they've built in a workshop at the rear of their Joondalup home, where they also grow fruit and herbs for ingredients. Chicho Gelato uses local fresh food wherever possible. For example, for the chocolate and passionfruit flavour the chocolate is sourced from a producer in Margaret River. The grapefruit sorbet uses fruit from Kununurra.

"A lot of ice-cream shops use prefabricated paste but we cut the fruit, blend it and infuse it into the gelato," Mr De Bartolo said.

Mrs De Bartolo uses her science background to formulate the flavours and no artificial flavours, colours or preservatives are used.

First stop for their new business was the Friday night Hawkers' Market in Perth CBD ("one of our best events"), plus farmers' markets at Leederville and Subiaco as well as private events like weddings.

"Couples were using the gelato as a bit of an ice breaker between the ceremony and reception," Mr De Bartolo said.

"We consider ourselves a high-quality product and we thought this (show) would be a great opportunity to get some awareness and also see who else in WA we can work with."

Mr De Bartolo has given up his job to concentrate on Chicho Gelato. "It's a huge career change but very gratifying."

The West Australian

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