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Chicago Welcomes the 10th Stage of the Gelato World Tour

The 16 Gelato Artisans Tossing of the Hats before the Opening of the Gelato World Tour Chicago

The 16 Gelato Artisans Tossing of the Hats before the Opening of the Gelato World Tour Chicago

Chicago Welcomes the 10th Stage of the Gelato World Tour

The Gelato World Tour (GWT) travels around the world to major cities to determine the best gelato of the world and Chicago was lucky to welcome the tour over the Memorial Day holiday weekend. Being only the second city in the U.S. to ever host the tour since its onset in 2013, the GWT hosted a couple special media events leading up to the big 3-day festival.

Luciano Ferrari from the Gelato World Tour

Luciano Ferrari from the Gelato World Tour

Media guests learned the art of gelato making and became “Gelato Angels” in an accelerated Carpigiani Gelato University course led by Italian Frozen Dessert Technologist (or “Gelato Clown” as he prefers to be called), Luciano Ferrari at Kendall College. Luciano then teamed up with Piccolo Sogno owner and chef Tony Priolo at the River West Eatery to host a 6-course Gelato Affecionado Dinner. The duo and their team of chefs prepared a variety of dishes accompanied by a surprising selection of gelato including a Prosciutto di Parma with Cantaloupe Sorbetto, Risotto with Truffles and Parmesan Cheese Gelato, and Braised Short Ribs with Soft Polenta and greens next to Taggiasche Olive Gelato.

Risotto with Truffles and Parmesan Cheese Gelato

Risotto with Truffles and Parmesan Cheese Gelato

Chicago was the original choice to kickoff Stage 1 of the Gelato World Tour in May 2013 but at the time there wasn’t enough buzz about gelato in the U.S. So Rome, Italy became the home of the very first tour where gelato is one of the main delicacies. In all of Italy, which is about the size of Texas, there are 39,000 artisanal gelato shops. In the entire United States there are currently only around 900 gelato shops. There’s a huge space for gelato to enter the market in America and Chicago was excited to host the world tour in Millennium Park.

Artisanal Gelato Chefs from the Gelato World Tour

Artisanal Gelato Chefs from the Gelato World Tour

Sixteen chefs from North, Central, and South America competed to win the title of best gelato creating traditional and unique flavors. The tour was free and open to the public from Friday, May 28 through Sunday, May 29. Tasting tickets were just $10 for 8 tastings. Guests could sample all of the flavors and then vote for their favorite. There was also a panel of professional judges casting their vote for the top gelato creation. Small batches were made fresh daily and the tour completely ran out of gelato before 6pm on Sunday night, about two hours before the end of the event.

Gelato World Tour: Chicago Pothole from Angelo Lollino and Ali Caine Hung of Vero Coffee and Gelato inside Marianos in Elmwood Park

Gelato World Tour: Chicago Pothole from Angelo Lollino and Ali Caine Hung of Vero Coffee and Gelato inside Marianos in Elmwood Park

In between tastings, attendees could attend short educational sessions and workshops about the world of gelato taught by Carpigiani Gelato University Instructors. Festival goers and judges had a tough decision to make with so many amazing flavors being served but in the end only one gelato artisan could win and the award went to Daniela Lince Ledesma of Columbia for her Amor-acuya. Her delicious passion fruit gelato was one of my personal favorites.

Gelato World Tour: Baron Gottsacker of Bent Spoon (Flavor- Windy City S'Mores)

Gelato World Tour: Baron Gottsacker of Bent Spoon (Flavor- Windy City S’Mores)

My other favorite was a Windy City S’mores created by Baron Gottsacker of Bent Spoon Gelato in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. His gelato tasted just like it came off the campfire made with fresh milk, fresh cream, applewood smoked graham crackers, chocolate, and Chicago’s very own Katherine Ann Confections’ Marshmallows.

Gelato World Tour

Gelato World Tour

The top three winners go on to compete in Italy against other top chefs from around the world at the Grand Finale of the Gelato World Tour in September 2017. The winner will earn the title of BEST Gelato in the World! Daniela Lince Ledesma will represent the Americas along with 2nd and 3rd place winners. Angelo Lollino and Ali Caine Hung from Vero Coffee and Gelato inside Marianos in Elmwood Park were awarded second place for their Chicago Pothole made with heirloom cacao from Ecuador. Third place went to Tammy Giuliani of Stella Luna Cafe in Ottawa, Canada. Tammy proudly runs her business alongside her family and together they made a rich, decadent chocolate complimented by Chicago’s finest KOVAL single-barrel organic bourbon.

Gelato World Tour Winner Daniela Lince Ledesma of Columbia (Flavor- Amor-acuya)

Gelato World Tour Winner Daniela Lince Ledesma of Columbia (Flavor- Amor-acuya)

A refreshing cool treat, gelato dates all the way back to 3000 BC but the first Italian gelato surfaced back in the 1500’s when the Medici family sponsored a contest looking for the best frozen dessert. Famous artist and architect Bernardo Buontalenti created a rich and creamy frozen treat that we now call gelato and he is considered the inventor of the dessert. .

Strawberry, Banana, and Cantaloupe Gelato

Strawberry, Banana, and Cantaloupe Gelato

Frencesco Procopio del Coltelli, a famous restaurateur, helped spread the gelato love and make it famous all over Europe. He moved to Paris and opened the Procope Cafe which is still operating today. Finally, in 1770, gelato made it’s way to the United States via New York City thanks to Giovanni Basiolo. Today, gelato is loved all over the world. While similar to ice cream, gelato has a third to a half less the fat. The Gelato World Tour hits the west coast this September.

Katie Cahmann