'A gelato artist is an emotion-maker'

Rosie Scammell
Rosie Scammell - [email protected]
'A gelato artist is an emotion-maker'
Luciano Ferrari teaches at the Carpigiani Gelato University. Photo: Carpigiani

Italians and visitors to Italy alike can while away hours at an ice-cream shop, or gelateria. But what is it like to work behind the scenes? The Local speaks to Luciano Ferrari, a teacher at the Carpigiani Gelato University, near Bologna, to find out how sweet the gelato life really is.


“Running a gelateria is a very demanding job and you have to be passionate about it, otherwise you won’t last a month” says Ferrari, who ran Dolce Vita gelateria in Bologna for 20 years.

While serving up scoops of gelato all day long may seem like the dream job, Ferrari says the real work happens behind the scenes. “The most important part of the job is done when the doors are closed, when you do your shopping,” he says.

“You have to shop every couple of days in the market, especially when it comes to the fruit flavours. You have to use what’s available, and what meets your quality standards. If the strawberries are good that day, then you buy them.”

Ice cream shops are popular the world over, but Ferrari says it’s reductive to think of running a gelateria purely in business terms. “It’s very rewarding and exciting from both a business and an emotional standpoint.”

Although Ferrari has spent more than 30 years in the gelato industry, his career path could easily have been quite different. With a degree in mechanical engineering, he was working for company that made gelato machines when inspiration struck. “I started to become more attracted to the product itself, rather than the technology. So I left my job and started a gelateria,” Ferrari says.

He began teaching his trade more than a decade ago and now works full time at the Carpigiani Gelato University. While the craft was created in Italy, Ferrari says interest in the gelato industry is booming worldwide.

“It’s rare to have a class without representation from five continents. We have people investing weeks of their lives in a life-changing project; I like the idea of transferring my skills and give people the chance to have the same rewarding experience that I have."

Ferrari has taught the art of gelato making around the world, spending four years in the US. While the concept may be popular globally, he picked up on some key cultural differences.

“When we go to teach in the US we are aware that some of the classic flavours that are big in Italy, such as hazelnut, are not so popular. Other flavours have become very successful in the US, such as caramel popcorn” he says.

While gelato is a point of pride for all Italians, he is open to his art being interpreted differently around the world. After the shopping is done and the gelato made, Ferrari says the most rewarding part of the job is having people experience a delicious gelato: “A gelato artist is an emotion-maker. You create something which makes people happy, which in turns makes you happy.”

View the gallery of how to make the perfect gelato.


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