Tuesday, October 09, 2018

Flavours To Melt Your Heart

Former IT professional Samir Joseph went to study gelato-making at the Carpigiani-Gelato University in Italy. Today, he runs Cream Craft in Kochi, which is steadily growing in popularity

Photos: Samir Joseph; Heavenly Hazelnut ice cream. Pics by Albin Mathew 

By Shevlin Sebastian

When Samir Joseph stepped into a classroom at the Carpigiani-Gelato University at Bologna (375 km from Rome), in October, last year, the first thing he noticed was a large logo of Carpigiani in blue pasted across one wall. At the far end of the room, besides a white board, there were large images of gelato ice cream. Carpigiani is one of the largest companies in the world that manufactures gelato-making equipment, like batch freezers and pasteurisers.

As he sat on a chair with an attached desk, Samir immediately began to hear different accents. Later, he came to know that the 40 students came from countries as varied as the USA, Canada, Britain, Iceland, France, Australia, Sri Lanka, China and India.

During the morning hours, he studied subjects like what constitutes a gelato mix, the different type of ingredients and recipes, the design of a store and the cafe business models. After 3 p.m., it was practical classes supervised by an instructor and two assistants. Incidentally, Samir was accompanied by his cousin and business partner Josemon Mathew.

Among the crowd, Samir was one among a very few who came from the IT industry. Having worked in blue-chip companies like Wipro and Tech Mahindra, Samir was looking for a change in career. “I began to feel restless,” he says.

Asked why he decided to focus on ice-creams, he says, “Ice-cream is not so much about creativity but it is a science – of getting the right mix. And since I have an engineering background, [from Pune University], I felt that this would be suitable for me.”

Some of the other things he learnt at the university was that while regular ice cream is stored at -18 degrees centigrade, for gelato it is -14 degrees centigrade. “Texturally, gelato is very different,” he says. “It is smoother and creamier.”

Regarding the difference between icecreams and gelato, on the university website, with a touch of humour, it is stated, 'Gelato contains less fat than ice cream, has less incorporated air and is served at a higher temperature. Consequently, gelato provides a greater flavourful experience because there is less fat that coats the tongue, more flavour per spoonful, and the taste buds are more alive since the temperature is not so cold as to dull their sensitivity.”

It was only a week-long course, but Samir was confident enough to return and start his own gelato outlet called Cream Craft in Kochi a few weeks ago in a partnership with his entrepreneur cousins Shaju, Sunny, Shibu and Josemon. He has imported a batch and display freezer, as well as a pasteuriser from the Italian company.

And right from the beginning, Samir has been doing a lot of experimentation.
“I have made gelato using the spices of biriyani,” he says. He has also made flavours using popcorn, doughnut, rasmalai, and carrot halwa.

It has been well received. Says patron Nizzwa: “There are all kinds of flavours.. from laddu to blueberry cheesecake! Don't get attached to any flavour because they keep changing it every day.”

Adds another customer Joe Alex: “The flavours are all natural and unique.”

On a recent evening, as the 34-year-old Samir was helping out in the kitchen, making a gelato, a memory drifted into his mind. It was a Sunday afternoon in Kolkata more than two decades ago. Samir and his elder sister Sunita stood by the side of the dining table, as their father hand-mixed a cake batter. There were no beaters at that time. Their mother was adding the ingredients to the batter.

And the two children helped in their own little ways. “In those days, cakes were made in a pressure cooker because we did not have an oven,” says Samir. In the end, they made a sponge cake. “Sweets and desserts are a reminder of family love, and all of us doing something together,” he says. “Maybe, that's why I am making ice-creams now.”

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