As Italians slog through their hottest summer ever—with temperatures soaring as high as 105 degrees in cities like Rome—there is a good reason for them to, at least, think cool. The Gelato Festival World Ranking just announced the world’s best gelato artisans.
Gelato is one of the foremost food products associated with Italy, with roots that date back to Caterina de Medici and Cosimo Ruggieri (a celebrated alchemist and astrologist). Sales and consumption have grown rapidly since the 1950s. And not surprisingly, Italians dominated six of the top nine spots among the 5000 artisans evaluated by the experts.
And the winners are…
Marco Venturino of I Giardini di Marzo gelato shop (located in the town of Varazze in the province of Savona, Liguria) was named the best gelato artisan of 2022, awarded three crowns for his Bocca di Rosa gelato. The maestro’s winning frozen dessert is made with milk, white chocolate and a handmade rosewater base. Its unique flavor was inspired by a lesser known Ligurian specialty, the rich, creamy, aromatic rose syrup that is a Slow Food Presidium.
The World Ranking runner-up was Adam Fazekas of the Fazekas Crukraszda gelato shop in Budapest, Hungary, creator of a pistachio fruit gelato. In third place was Giovanna Bonazzi of La Parona di Gelato in Verona (Veneto region), who remarkably holds two other world titles as a professional mountain biking racer.
A U.S. entrant and entrepreneur, Savannah G. Lee of Savannah’s Gelato in San Francisco, California ranked fourth. Her winning flavor, called “The All-American,” is a tribute to All-American apple pie. Her cheesecake gelato, interlaced with a salted butterscotch drizzle and a medley of home-baked cinnamon apples with layers of honey graham cracker crumbles, is topped with ribbons of buttery caramel and melted white chocolate.
Eugenio Morrone of Rome’s Il Cannolo Siciliano gelato shop, who ranked first in 2020 and is a Gelato World Cup champion, entered the Festival’s Hall of Fame, moving up to a new role as one of the esteemed judges.
Much like the Michelin stars awarded to fine restaurants, this prestigious competition anoints gelato artisans with crowns, based on a complicated, multi-year ranking system. Thus far, participants from 1,098 gelato parlors across 18 countries and five continents have participated in the competition since its debut in 2010.
Gelato Festival World Ranking represents a partnership among Gelato Festival, Carpigiani and Sigep IEG Expos (a producer of B2B shows), Artisans are judged on a number of criteria including technical competence, quality and combination of ingredients, and taste.
When in Bologna…
“The announcement of the ranking kicks off the new competition scheduled for 2022-2025. The four-year Gelato Festival coming up is part of a 20-year celebration of Carpigiani Gelato University, which has been training successful gelato artisans at its 22 campuses around the world,” says Kaori Ito, communications director of the University. There are currently gelato shops in 76 countries around the world, with about 65,00 shops in Europe alone, many of whom were trained at the source.
The Carpigiani company was founded by two brothers, Bruto and Poerio Carlo Carpigiani, who invented and patented the first automated gelato machine. The company, now part of the Ali Group, ultimately became the world leader in gelato-making machines. In 2003, it launched Carpigiani Gelato University with the mission of spreading the culture of artisanal gelato across the world. The University sponsors courses from basic to advanced, from single sessions to lengthy curricula, both hands-on, in-person and online.
During summer especially, visitors to Bologna (in the Emilia Romagna region) should make a beeline to the very cool Gelato Museum, the first in the world dedicated to the social and technological history of gelato, for guided tours, tastings and workshops.