Only an engineer and a pharmacist could churn out authentic Italian gelato with quirky flavours from two ice-cream carts called Frank and Pina. Plum. Grapefruit. Lemon and basil. White chocolate and rosewater with roasted pistachios. Watermelon and mint.

It’s very much a labour of love for Chicho Gelato’s Chez and Carly De Bartolo, who spent four years in London pursuing their professional careers before developing a taste for gelato while travelling through Italy and honing their skills with a four-week course at Carpigiani Gelato University near Bologna.

“It was a huge eye-opener, ” Mr De Bartolo said. “Good gelato is very much about using fresh, locally sourced ingredients and raw produce to create your own flavours and pastes. Certainly, we were taught how to make the classics but there was a lot of experimentation with flavours, so we’ve been quite avant-garde in doing quirky combinations.

“We saw the ice-cream carts in Sicily and that was it for us. They’ve allowed us to take our product to markets, festivals and functions and get immediate feedback from our customers.”

Yes, the carts are eye-catching but the whole idea is that the gelato is contained in a glycol refrigerated tank to maintain flavour and texture on the road.

Chicho is an adaptation of “ciccio”, an Italian term of endearment for cheeky. “It’s used across Italy to greet kids, so you say ‘Eh ciccio’, and also squeeze their cheeks, ” Mr De Bartolo said.

The couple make everything from scratch, including pastes, sauces and syrups. They squeeze citrus the old-fashioned way with an old hand press from Mexico, pasteurise milk and cream, grow their own mint and source strawberries direct from Landsdale to maintain quality control. Gelato and sorbet are made weekly in six-litre batches with locally grown fruit that changes with the seasons. A new flavour is introduced every fortnight.

“We make our own chocolate paste from raw cocoa and couverture, and infuse flavours for 12 hours into our bases, ” Mr De Bartolo said. “We’ve experimented with a few different milks and are using Bannister Downs full-cream at the moment because you can taste the difference. It’s super intensive and there are no shortcuts. Sorbet, especially, needs to be fresh because it becomes icy quite quickly otherwise.”

Ms De Bartolo is still working as a pharmacist but Mr De Bartolo has switched careers with a view to opening a gelateria down the track. “We’re about making gelato and sorbet authentically but want to move forward with our flavours for unconventional combinations that appeal to the curious palate, ” he said. “I like to call it ‘new-wave’ gelato but we will always do classics like mint-choc, choc-chip and strawberries and cream, for traditionalists and kids.”

Keep track of Chicho Gelato on facebook and instagram.


© The West Australian

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