Tom Sarafian has been popping-up all over Melbourne (and Australia) lately.
But the ex-Bar Saracen chef says he’s never been the one to make the first move. “I’ve always been approached by amazing people with awesome opportunities. So I’ve actually never asked anyone to do a collaboration or pop-up before.”
His upcoming collab with Pidapipo, is notable, then, in that it marks the first time Sarafian has instigated a joint project himself.
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“I was missing eating ashta ice-cream in Lebanon and thought to get in touch with Lisa [Valmorbida] at Pidapipo, who is Lebanese on her mum’s side and creates my favourite gelato in Melbourne,” Sarafian tells Broadsheet.
Ashta (which also goes by several other names, including kashta or qishta), as the hummus king explains, is a fresh, rich cream with an amazing cheesy texture. It’s made by slowly cooking milk in a wide pan until you get a light vapour and a custardy skin. As it forms, the skin is carefully collected and set aside: this is the ashta. It takes a lot of time and a lot of milk.
Sarafian and Valmorbida’s ashta gelato is served in a waffle cone and covered with sliced Iranian pistachios. For the ashta, they tapped one of the only local makers – Houssam Afiouni of Lebanese bakery Afiouni Sweets and Pastries in Campbellfield. The special flavour is available at all four Pidapipo stores for two weeks only, from Saturday October 14 until Sunday October 29.
To celebrate the collab, Sarafian is hosting a pop-up – Taste of Beirut – at Pidapipo Laboratorio in Brunswick this Saturday, October 14, from noon until sold out.
The chef will be cooking shish tawook, a chicken kebab he describes as an “all-time favourite”. The chicken will be marinated in a Persian spice blend before being cooked over charcoal, brushed with plenty of toum. It’ll then be wrapped up with za’atar-seasoned chips, harissa mayonnaise, pickled Lebanese cucumbers and parsley in homemade saj (unleavened flatbread cooked over a large dome-shaped hot plate).
The Tom Sarafian x Pidapipo ashta gelato is available at all four Pidapipo locations from Saturday October 14 until Sunday October 29 (or until sold out).