Chef Davide Passarella On Gelatos, Sorbets, And More
Image Credit: Chef Davide Passarella, The Italian master of gelatos came to India 15 years ago and fell in love with Goa and settled here.

With all things cool and candid on the table, it is quite hard to imagine one having a tough conversation with Chef Davide Passarella or should we say, ‘Mr Gelato’? The Italian culinary expert is known for his innovative flavourings and bringing the Italian-style frozen dessert on the Indian table. The gourmet dessert chef experienced his first gelato at a very young age and instantly fell in love with these frozen treats.

Seems like there was no looking back for Chef Davide, who then went on to open his first ice cream chain in his 20s. Following which, he became the chief flavour creator of a leading Indo-Italian gelato brand, called Cream Choc, when he moved to Goa 15 years ago. Gradually, another arm of this frozen dessert brand forayed into the market under the leadership of Chef Davide and today when he looks back, all he remembers is his first tryst with these frozen treats.  

On a holiday, you might find him experimenting with new flavours and putting his 32 years of gelato-making experience to good use. Chef Davide gets candid with us as he talks at length about imbibing the spontaneity and zesty flavours of his life into his exotic recipes. Excerpts.  

Q1. Being a gelato expert, how would you distinguish between an ice cream and a gelato? 

I wouldn’t go so far as to call myself an expert. I think that once you believe that you’re the best, then one’s drive and passion gets diminished, and you lose your edge. That being said, there are a lot of differences between ice creams and gelatos, starting right from the process of how it is created. Ice cream is an industrial product, made with many machines,  that keep churning out, batch after batch. We call it continuous batching, whereas gelatos are artisanal - there is a ‘manuality’ in making them, and that makes all the difference. It is a discontinuous process, and you require the operators’ presence continuously. Another big difference is the use of transgenic fats in ice cream. They help incorporate air in the product, to give it more volume. Gelatos, on the other hand, use no transgenic fats at all - and revel in their heaviness and creaminess. 

Q2. Describe your first encounter with gelato? 

Being Italian, my romance with gelatos started at a very young age, as is common for all my countrymen. I must’ve tried my first gelato even before I can remember, but by the time I was three years old, I already loved these frozen treats. Professionally speaking, before I studied to be a chef, I grew up in and out of our family restaurant in Turin, Italy. I developed an interest in pastry making, and from then on, I ventured into frozen sweets. They are more difficult to create and perfect, and I loved the challenge. It is absolutely fascinating, the process of freezing a liquid and making it tasty.

I was 22, thirty years ago, when I first worked with an ice cream company. I went back to work at a restaurant kitchen but the lure of frozen desserts was too strong so I went to work at a gelato laboratory and have never looked back since. 

Source: Chef Davide Passarella

I think gelatos entered the Indian market around 2007-2008, but they came with too many flavours and the consistency in quality was difficult to maintain. People didn't have much information then, about the ingredients used or health-related concerns. Indians have been quite receptive of this addition and the Italian frozen desserts have been well-received in the market. The proof is that people keep coming back for more.