In 2021, Sandra Foti launched the Piccolina Gelato Project – an eight-week event featuring gelato collaborations with eight notable Melbourne chefs. The founder of Piccolina Gelateria tasked each chef with creating three unconventional gelato cups that represented their own style.
That first season saw creations including mango pudding gelato with passionfruit sorbet and condensed milk (from Victor Liong of Lee Ho Fook), porcini mushroom gelato with chocolate, thyme and sour apple (by Dave Verheul of Embla) and spiced pumpkin pie gelato (courtesy of Zoe Birch of Greasy Zoe’s).
Season two last year proved the sophomore slump is a myth. Etta’s Rosheen Kaul dreamt up butter gelato with vanilla sponge, buttercream and sprinkles and Thi Le of Jeow and Ca Com served up a toasted jasmine rice gelato with banana-rum jam, candied walnuts and nutmeg.
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For this year’s Gelato Project installment, Foti enlisted a new line-up of gelato makers including Brigitte Hafner of Tedesca Osteria, Nornie Bero of Mabu Mabu, Charley Snadden-Wilson of Clover, Ella Mittas of Ela! Ela!, Nagesh Seethiah of Manze, Ellie Bouhadana of Hope St Radio, Ross Magnaye of Serai, and Coskun Uysal of Tulum.
“It’s an open brief, so they can do whatever they want and nothing is off-limits,” Foti tells Broadsheet. She quickly remembers the sole rule: “it has to be served in a cup” to make things manageable for shop staff.
The 24 chef’s cups have more than 100 different components and took 12 months of planning to get right.
Some of this year’s flavours include a mandarin and saffron sorbet with toasted walnuts, tahini, carob molasses, candied pumpkin and elderflower by Uysal; Mauritian vanilla bean gelato with pineapple jam, toasted coconut flakes and spiced rum syrup from Seethiah; and mascarpone gelato with espresso chocolate stracciatella, toasted walnuts, halva and sesame brittle by Hafner.
We ask Foti if she’s concerned that some of the more unconventional flavours, like schmaltz gelato or lemon thyme gelato with Turkish chicken bread pudding, may not necessarily translate to sales.
“I’m not really worried about it,” she says. “This series is about challenging the customer and interpreting gelato in a new and different way. Showcasing what it can be. It’s not about selling out – it’s about bringing the customer something really unique and different.”
New flavours in the Piccolina Gelato Project are released every Wednesday and are available for one week only
The Piccolina Gelato Project
Wed June 21 – Tues June 27: Ross Magnaye
Wed June 28 – Tues July 4: Nornie Bero
Wed July 5 – Tues July 11: Charley Snadden-Wilson
Wed July 12 – Tues July 18: Ella Mittas
Wed July 19 – Tues July 25: Nagesh Seethiah
Wed July 26 – Tues August 1: Ellie Bouhadana
Wed August 2 – Tues August 8: Coskun Uysal
Wed August 9 – Tues August 15: Brigitte Hafner