14 Oct 2019
Here at The Black Truffle we love creamy, silky gelato almost as much as a great local success story, so who better to inspire us this month than Lisa Calabro, Director of Perth’s own Il Gelato? Here’s the lowdown on one of our favourite family owned and operated businesses.
TBT: Where did the Il Gelato story begin?
Lisa: Our founder, and my husband, Govanni, visited Perth in 1984 and loved it so much he decided to stay (the family joke is that he’s still on holiday).
Having a culinary background Giovanni saw a gap in the market for gelato and decided to try his hand at making this traditional Italian dessert. It worked, and this year we are actually celebrating our 20th birthday after opening our first Il Gelato scoop shop in 1999 on Oxford Street, Leederville. This soon expanded to seven stores by 2007, then in response to the challenging economic climate, we repositioned Il Gelato from a bricks and mortar business to solely a producer. This way we could give people scoop shop quality gelato to enjoy at home.
TBT: What’s the difference between gelato and ice cream?
Lisa: As gelato involves a much slower churning process the result is a denser texture that tastes silky smooth. Gelato also uses more milk than cream, so it has a lower fat content and tastes great too!
We also recommend that you serve our gelato at a slightly warmer temperature than ice cream (around 15 degrees) to get that maximum flavour impact. If you leave it on the counter for a few minutes before eating, it will taste even better (if you can wait that long).
TBT: Without giving all your trade secrets away, what’s the key to creating a creamy, silky gelato?
Lisa: We use small batch machines worked by highly skilled professionals to slowly turn the gelato. But without saying too much, the secret ingredient is love.
TBT: What separates Il Gelato from other gelato producers?
Lisa: We believe what separates us is our commitment to source only the best quality ingredients to produce the finest gelato. We’ve been around the longest and still make our product the same traditional way, but we are also not afraid to try new and exciting flavours, like the world-first Fish and Chip Gelato that we developed in conjunction with Kailis Fish Market in Freo.
TBT: What is a gelato paste, and why do you source this from Italy while the rest of your ingredients are sourced locally?
Lisa: Gelato paste is the characterising ingredient in gelato. We source our paste from a family owned company, much like us, back in Italy. We think we get the best of both worlds by combining traditional Italian gelato paste with quality Australian produce. In essence we want to give an authentic taste of Italy that you can enjoy here in Australia.
TBT: You mentioned you’ve re-modelled the business and moved away from bricks and mortar retailing. What does that mean, and where can gelato lovers find your products currently?
Lisa: We now employ 12-15 staff at our headquarters in Osborne Park making sorbets, gelato, frozen yoghurt and even gelato cakes. You’ll see our products in restaurants and cafes as well as independent supermarkets across the state, and we’re even stocked in Victoria, New South Wales and the ACT.
TBT: So where to next for Il Gelato?
Lisa: Our next goal is to get our products on shelves in Singapore and beyond, so that even more people have the chance to get their hands on a tub of quality, traditional gelato. We think of ourselves as the ‘little gelato company that could’ and our goal is to be everyone’s ‘go to’ dessert.
TBT: What flavour is Il Gelato’s biggest seller?
Lisa: Surprisingly, our biggest seller is actually Madagascan Vanilla Bean, so perhaps vanilla is not the boring flavour that people seem to think it is!
TBT: How many gelato flavours does Il Gelato make and what is your personal favourite and why?
Lisa: Over our 20 years we’ve experimented with over 100 flavours, and we’re constantly creating new ones. At the moment we have a mixture of classic flavours like Sicilian Pistachio as well as newer ones like Salted Caramel so there’s something for everyone. My personal favourite is Vanilla, because I enjoy the simple things in life and believe they give the most joy.
Find a huge range Il Gelato products in store at The Black Truffle including 1L take-home tubs ($14.95 each), 125ml pots for one ($3.95 each) and choc top favourites packs ($12.95 each).