Dining Services learns gelato-making skills

Professionals gelato chefs taught members of Dining Services how to optimize their desserts. Grace Flaherty/Photo Editor.
Professionals gelato chefs taught members of Dining Services how to optimize their desserts. Grace Flaherty/Photo Editor.

If, like me, you’ve been in Paresky enough times to memorize the layout, you’ve probably also stumbled across a certain flyer, reassuring you that you can, in fact, parlare italiano a semester abroad in Italy. But if you can’t make it to Italy, fret not; you can always get a taste of Italian flavor with snack bar’s delicious dessert option — gelato.

The creamy confection was “a popular request among regulars,” said Mike LaBonte, part of the late night Dining Services staff.

And while the campus, outfitted with its myriad cows and ice cream parlor, Lickety Split, doesn’t seem to be lacking in the dairy dessert department, gelato makes for an exciting addition as well as a healthier dessert alternative.

Unlike ice cream, which needs at least ten percent milkfat to offset the formation of hardening crystals, gelato retains its smoothness by cutting back on both fat and water content. Gelato is slowly churned in a process called overrun, which minimizes the air whipped into the mixture and leads to a denser product. Traditional ice cream can contain as much as 50 percent air, making it light and fluffy, and mostly empty space. Ice cream’s high fat content overshadows more delicate flavors, while gelato allows for those subtleties to shine through. Another difference between the two is that gelato can be served 10–15 degrees warmer, preventing coldness from numbing your tongue and allowing for a much more intense experience of flavor. Aside from gelato having just over 100 calories per three ounce serving, it is also made with a host of fresh ingredients and prepared  fresh daily.

To satisfy the increasing demand for gelato, Chef Robert Sobkowski of Swiss Chalet Fine Foods and Domenico Piscioneri of Pernigotti Gelato led workshops for Dining Services last Wednesday. Swiss Chalet is currently the main food distributor for the College.

A supplier for Swiss Chalet, Pernigotti boasts origins in Piedmont, Italy. After its founding in 1860, Pernigotti established itself as a leader in the chocolate industry, creating one of the first recipes for Gianduiotto, chocolates with a hazelnut nougat base.

“Doing the workshop is a two-fold pass of knowledge,” Piscioneri said. “You get a culture, a history brought to share with people who want to know and understand gelato. You can have gelato, buy it at any time, but the  values behind it are what stay with you. The people [in the workshop] share other things with you.”

Gabrielle Dudley, snack bar’s own gelato specialist, said the workshops “were ideal for helping everything come together. I like to be original and constantly try different things. The [Swiss Chalet] workshops taught me how to really make the recipes my own, to individualize them with a trademark.”

Dudley’s recipes run the gamut, with staples like chocolate and vanilla and more adventurous flavors like caramel, pistachio and cheesecake. All, of course, in preparation for the day you find yourself in Italy, when, being the connoisseur that you are, you confidently order an affogato al caffè, a serving of the slow-churned goodness that comes doused in espresso.