Whatever you did your degree in, Chef Safia’s is cooler. Safia heads up our bakery where most of the cakes, pies and cookies for all of Black Sheep Restaurants come from. We sent her to Gelato University in Bologna, Italy, for four weeks, where she learned the ins and outs of gelato along with 28 other students from around the world.
What is the difference between gelato and ice cream?
Ice cream has more fat than gelato and it is a common myth that gelato needs to be made by a special gelato maker. They are both churned frozen treats, just with different fat ratios.
The main takeaway from your time at Gelato University?
I did not realise how scientific and mathematic making gelato is, which really excites me. The flavours are endless as long as you know the science behind it. I am fascinated with what happens in the freezer and the effects different ingredients have on the end product. We also learned how to infuse alcohol into gelato and how that affects its freezing abilities.
Biggest flavour fails or happy accidents?
I was really looking forward to sangria but that was a fail because it turned really icy. Some of the workshops covered savoury flavours like parmesan and salsa which was interesting. Caramel popcorn was pure kismet — utterly fantastic! However, the chocolate beer flavour was probably my favourite creation of all.
Chocolate or vanilla?
Vanilla, if it is done properly. Anyone can add all sorts of flavours to gelato, but you judge a good gelateria by the classics like vanilla and fior di latte. We actually make a mean fior di latte gelato at Buenos Aires Polo Club and I think it is the best gelato in Hong Kong.
Where was the best gelato you in Italy?
After the course was over I made the pilgrimage to Sicily to check out Caffe Sicilia which was featured on the Netflix show Chef’s Table. Corrado Assenza is meant to be the Godfather of granitas and brioche con gelato. But honestly, while it was delicious, it was not my favourite. The one that really blew me away was just around the corner called Caffe Costanzo. That is where the locals go.