For a period of time, there was a frozen yoghurt store almost every few blocks. When the boom was over, many suddenly disappeared. But they’re making a comeback, and joining in on the DIY, pay-by-weight action is Federico Zanellato – fine-dining chef and restaurateur behind Lumi Dining, Lode Pies and Pastries, Avoja Pizzeria and Restaurant Leo – who has opened Freo in the CBD.

Surprised? He was too.

“A long-time customer of Lumi asked if I’d be interested to do a project on frozen yoghurt. Initially, I was a bit sceptical. It’s all artificial flavouring; it’s a not premium product, so I wasn’t really interested,” he tells Broadsheet. “Then I started to do some research. I went back to him and said we could do something interesting if we invest time and money on the product and the equipment.”

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For Zanellato that translated to six months of research and development, importing premium Carpigiani soft serve machines from Italy, using Riverina Dairy natural pot set yoghurt as the froyo base, and creating flavours based on all-natural and premium ingredients, such as Italy’s Martini range of fruit paste. “I said if we do it, we’ve got to do it properly.”

The frozen yoghurt and gelato mixes are made daily in-house, where the frozen yoghurt is left to mature for six hours before it’s poured into the machines to churn. The result: a smoother, richer and denser froyo and gelato.

Zanellato explains that, unlike other froyo stores that use gravity machines, Freo uses pump machines. “Pump machines have a homogeniser, which breaks down the fat … at the same time, we can regulate the overrun, so we can introduce air into the product.”

There are four froyo flavours to choose from – classic, Japanese strawberry, taro and mango – alongside four gelato flavours: caffe latte and kuromitsu; hojicha and soy milk; black sesame goma and activated black charcoal; and Rindo matcha. As well as the main froyo and gelato range, there are two super creamy plant-based gelati available in organic coconut and 70 per cent dark chocolate.

But if you can’t decide which flavour you want, “swirl” it and the machine will churn out two flavours at once. Federico has carefully paired the flavours together, such as black sesame goma with Rindo matcha, and Japanese strawberry with hojicha and soy milk.

At the curved marble topping station, select from seasonally available fresh fruit such as mango and dragon fruit, in-house baked crumble, as well as products from Lode such as brownies, chocolate crumble, and cheesecake bites. There’s also freshly melted 70 per cent Callebaut dark chocolate, and Italian pistachio cream and hazelnut cream. Old favourites such as Tim Tams and mini Oreos also make an appearance.

Just like the froyo and gelato offering, the fit-out is topnotch too with floor-to-ceiling glass windows, sleek stainless steel finishes, bright neon signage and timber panelling.

A second Freo store is slated to open in Chatswood mid-year as part of the redevelopment of Chatswood Chase, alongside Fabbrica, Dopa and Sandotchi.

Freo
115 Bathurst Street, Sydney

Hours
Daily 11am-10.30pm

@letsfreo