The best ice cream makers are two young women

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Erika Quattrini and Taila Semeraro win the GeCo 2021 race with an original almond ice cream

Symbol and icon of Italianness in the world, the ice-cream is a timeless passion. In any form and in any season it is a delicacy that is difficult to resist, especially if it is handcrafted. But what are the latest trends on the most loved food – along with pizza – by Italians? How can we define contemporary ice cream?
Simple, unique, unpredictable and increasingly “woman”: an answer that comes directly from the fifth edition of the show Contemporary Ice Cream just concluded in Modica, Sicily, which saw the triumph of the sweet creation of Erika Quattrini of the Penguin from Falconara Marittima (Ancona) And Taila Semeraro from Ciccio in the square to Ostuni (Brindisi). A friendship born during the last edition of GeCo (the acronym for Contemporary Gelato) which prompted the two young ice cream makers to compete together.

Essence… is without

According to the jury of experts – composed of Corrado Assenza, Loretta Fanella, Pierpaolo Ruta, Nicolò Vellino, Luca Bernardini and Luis Concepcion Sepulveda – the ice cream Essence presented by the winning couple was the one who most of all was able to interpret the theme of this year’s challenge, that is Avant-garde almond.
To make it Erika and Taila used the Apulian almond of the Filippo Cea cultivar of the Slow Food Presidium for its extraordinary aromatic characteristics – very low acidity, high content in oil and fatty acids, intense and sweet flavor with final butter notes – enhanced throughout the its aroma thanks to a skilful balance between extraction, infusion, roasting and distillation. And then a touch of originality, the unexpectedly green color: “We chose to color the ice cream with spinach powder dried by us with a specific objective, to attract the attention of the little ones to stimulate their curiosity, to answer their questions with the ultimate goal of creating a new taste memory in current generations. At the same time, we believe that even the world of adults, back from a long period of strong industrialization, deserves to be sufficiently informed and to be able to recognize, distinguish and therefore be able to choose a good real artisan ice cream. A green almond ice cream is a bit of a provocation to establish a dialogue and therefore a confrontation with the customer to bring down some wrong certainties and put everything into question. In our opinion, the contemporary ice cream maker must, through knowledge, be able to go back to the past and create an ice cream able to amaze the final consumer without the aid of artificial flavors and colors ».
An elegant and inclusive sorbet, because it is vegetable and gluten-free, which has beaten the competition and also deserved the critics’ prize: “Imagining to write it differently, or”and without”Recalls our very specific choice to prepare an inclusive ice cream, which can be eaten by those who, by choice or for dietary needs, follow a diet free of animal derivatives and gluten. In fact, we believe that, although we cannot give up a good fior di latte made with organic milk from the farm, it is now necessary to have alternatives in the ice cream parlor that allow everyone to eat a good homemade ice cream ».
In second place second, made available by Caffè Moak, the Modican Antonello Adamo with an almond and jasmine flower ice cream, while the third prize, curated by Birra Tarì, went to the Apulian Fabio Pellegrino with a taste of almond and pink pepper.

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Women in the race

In addition to the winners, among the 16 challengers from all over Italy there were also two other ice cream makers competing: Silvia Duranti of Something Good (Moneglia, Genoa) with an almond sorbet with dehydrated apricots with Barbados rum, which explains: «I wanted to create an unusual combination and so I immediately thought of a distillate. Before the competition I had already tested this taste with some customers and they liked it, now it will officially enter the proposals of my ice cream parlor ». Chiara Saffioti of Granitiamo (Palmi, Reggio Calabria) with an activated almond ice cream (soaked for 12 hours with water and salt to make it more digestible) with chrysanthemum flowers and spicy praline almonds: “After several attempts I thought of this new version inspired by Asian countries where chrysanthemum flowers are a symbol of joy, also present in weddings. The Calabrian chilli, on the other hand, underlines the identity of the land I come from ». The pink quota does not end there: in the technical committee of GeCo together with Gianfrancesco Cutelli there are indeed Ida By Baggio And Giovanna Musumeci, the two ice cream makers are working on a new project that will soon be unveiled. «The presence of women in the creation of ice creams is nothing new», says Ida Di Baggio, «we have always been present in the laboratories only that in the past we were less exposed to the public, leaving the scene to men. Now we too are finally becoming aware of our talent and proudly claiming our space. I remember that in 2014 I was the only woman present at an event dedicated to ice cream, but today we are witnessing a cultural change, as demonstrated by the many colleagues present at GeCo 2021 ».

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The good result of the Quattrini-Semerano couple came to the crown of a complex experiential journey of three days in which the teaching of great names in food and wine alternated Corrado Assenza, of the Caffè Sicilia in Noto, which presented its idea of ​​contemporaneity by playing on unprecedented combinations and gustatory shocks; the pastry chef Loretta Fanella, which starting from a single base has created three different recipes for spectacular flat-plate ice creams; Claudio Gaiaschi Podere Santa Bianca, which distilled wild fennel; And Luca Bernardini, an international teacher specializing in sub-zero pastry and food design, who for GeCo has created pralines with positive and negative ganache, one of which in particular with Modica chocolate coating and filled with pacha de cacao (fresh cocoa pulp), free of charge in Modica, where the competition took place, and at the great and late Franco Ruta, the man who believed in and contributed to making the Sicilian town one of the world capitals of chocolate. Higher training days made unique thanks to extraordinary experiences such as a visit to the Fattojo Bonajuto to discover the secrets of world of cocoa, then a pre-dinner organized by the company Moak coffee in which a contamination between mixology, cafeteria and ice cream parlor was made with a cocktail based on tonic and granita of coffee cascara with sesame syrup from Ispica and served in accompaniment to a Sicilian brioche and donkey mortadella ice cream and a fig garnished with pecorino granita. To complete also a “hot” dinner with ice cream made by the wandering chef and gastronomic juggler Carmelo Chiaramonte, a celebration of the seductive Sicilian biodiversity in a riot of forgotten flavors, acidity, temperatures and culinary tales. Intense days of confrontation, discovery, contamination between great professionals in the sector that allow you to rewrite, probe, revolutionize the infinite possibilities of ice cream by redefining the traditional gastronomic canons and creating, through a reinterpretation of one of the most traditional products of our daily life, a sensory story absolutely original and complex, made of colors, aromas, unknown sensations.

«The review Contemporary Ice Cream»Says the creator Andrea Mecozzi, «It starts in 2017 and after an edition in Colombia and three in Milazzo, it arrives in Modica with a competition entirely dedicated to almond ice cream, gastronomic excellence of the Val di Noto and at the same time a simple and genuine product. No excess in the competition, in our opinion the real challenge of contemporary ice cream is in fact that of opening up to new horizons through reassuring and familiar products such as almond. My goal for the future “, concludes Mecozzi,” is to transform GeCo into a major event with an international scope, bringing the event abroad as early as next year to see Italian ice cream makers confront and challenge each other with great masters from all over the world. “.

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