What it’s like to study the art of gelato-making in Italy
A class of gelato students poses with their creation in 2016.Photo courtesy of Carpigiani Gelato University
- At the Carpigiani Gelato University near Bologna, Italy you can take a 4-week course to become a “Master Gelatiere.”
- Gelato students from all over the world study in classrooms, get first-hand crafting experience, and learn how to open and operate their own gelato shop.
- We spoke with Samuel Kelerstein, who opened his own gelateria in Florida less than two years after he graduated from Carpigiani’s classrooms.
Forget liberal arts college: We want to go to ice cream university. The tiny municipality of Anzola dell’Emilia in Bologna, Italy, is home to Carpigiani Gelato University, where — after a four-week intensive training program — you can become a gelato master.
From learning the difference between ice cream and gelato in the university classroom (more milk and less cream) to to getting first-hand experience making fluffy mounds of Nutella,pistachio, and stracciatella (plain milk flavor with chocolate shavings) gelato, students leave the university with a “Master Gelatiere” certificate. Many alums even open their own gelato shops.
Carpigiani Gelato University was founded in 2003 as an “educational arm” of Carpigiani: an Italian corporation best-known for making gelato machines for restaurants and gelaterias. In 2013, the university launched its first four-week training program called “Become a Gelatiere,” which includes three weeks of training with a one-week internship at a gelato shop in Italy.
We had the chance to speak with Samuel Kelerstein, who attended the Gelato University in 2014 and opened his own gelato shop called Glyk Gelato in Parkland, Florida 18 months after graduation, and Kaori Ito, Director of the Carpigiani Gelato University.
At Gelato University, you don’t just sit in the back of the classroom: You have plenty of trial and error experience.
Vanilla, strawberry, and pistachio gelato made by students.Photo courtesy of Carpigiani Gelato University
“The entire course allows a person to understand and to dive in to what the Italian way of making gelato is,” Kelerstein said. “They helped me a lot in terms of understanding the process, how it’s made, the type of equipment used, and what the difference is between gelato and regular ice cream.”
Classes range in size from 10 to 30 students, and more than half of students come from outside Italy.
Students learn during hands-on instruction.Photo courtesy of Carpigiani Gelato University
Kelerstein said that he began his intensive gelato-making course in the summer of 2014. He comes from a family of ice cream-makers in Mexico, and had always wanted to open his own shop in South Florida. Cartigiani was the next step toward achieving that goal.
“It’s set up like a summer study-abroad program,” Kelerstein said. “They get you into a nice hotel with accommodations, pick you up every morning, and take you to the university. You’re there for eight hours a day, five days a week. I was in the same room as an 18-year-old kid who had just graduated from high school and a 65-year-old entrepreneur from Australia.”
Students like Kellerstein learn how to appreciate the sometimes temperamental art of gelato-making.
A Neapolitan tri-scoop ice cream: vanilla, chocolate, and strawberryPhoto courtesy of Carpigiani Gelato University
“Italian gelato is an artisanal product,” Kelerstein said. “It’s handmade, and doesn’t just come out of a factory. You have to take into consideration, temperature variations, humidity, and much more. All will affect the quality. Gelato is the way ice cream should be made and enjoyed.”
In the morning, students learn the basics of gelato in a classroom setting. In the afternoon, they try it out for themselves.
A student working hard on a gelato recipe during class.Photo courtesy of Carpigiani Gelato University
“The classroom is an actual classroom next to a lab; it’s like going to class at a regular university,” Kelerstein said. “It’s state of the art. You come in, they give you your uniform and your utensils. You sit down in class and learn the basics of gelato, and then you go straight into making it.”
There are many different types of gelato, as the students quickly learn.
An assortment of flavors including stracciatella, pistachio, hazelnut, and coffee.Photo courtesy of Carpigiani Gelato University
“You can make any flavor you want: pistachio, hazelnut, chocolate, there’s a famous flavor called stractiella,” Kelerstein said. “You have your sorbets, your gelati with inclusions (pieces like cookies and cream), and variegated where you put a sauce on top of the gelato.”
“In the basic course we teach what gelato is and how it differs from industrial ice cream,” Ito said. “How to find and use the best raw materials. Milk-based and water-based gelato, ie sorbet. Soft gelato and stick gelato. What a correct production method and cycle consists of. Hygiene standards and requirements.”
The last thing students learn before graduating Gelato University is how to run a gelato business.
The class of 2016 graduates from Carpigiani Gelato University.Photo courtesy of Carpigiani Gelato University
Mastering the art of gelato is not just about learning how to make it, although that’s a huge chunk of it. You also have to run a successful gelateria, or “gelato shop.”
Around 18 months after he graduated from Gelato University, Kelerstein was just about ready to open his shop.
“Just as I was ready to open, I contacted Carpigiani,” Kelerstein said. “You can hire the instructors at the university to come abroad, come on-site and give a consultation. So that’s what I did. I worked with my former professor for two weeks before I opened shop.”
By July 2016, the student has become the master: Kellerstein opens his own gelato shop in Parkland, Florida.
Former university student Samuel Kellerstein whips up a batch of gelato in his shop.Photo courtesy of Samuel Kelerstein
Kelerstein and his father had the grand opening for Glyk Gelato in Parkland, Florida in July 2016. There, he debuted his favorite flavor — which he had learned studying abroad in Italy, and would soon become his signature creation — sweet corn ice cream. Kelerstein said that he was inspired by Mexican sweet corn cakes when he created the unusual gelato variety.
As of right now, Glyk Gelato has a perfect five-star score on Yelp, with reviews calling it “the best gelato I’ve had outside of Europe,” and lamenting the fact that the sweet corn always sells out before closing.
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