words by Silvia Donati
photos courtesy of Sherbeth Festival
White figs from the Cilento area of Puglia with chocolate gelato and almonds was the winning flavour at the International Gelato Competition “Procopio de’ Coltelli”, held Sunday in Cefalù, Sicily, on the final day of the Sherbeth Festival, an international event dedicated to artisan gelato. Raffaele Del Verme, gelato chef from Campania, is the creator of the original flavour chosen by a jury of gelato professionals and journalists, who also awarded second place to the gelato tart flavour “Viva la nonna” (hurrah grandma) by Sicilian gelato chef Santo Musumeci, and third place to the Piedmont hazelnut flavour by Alberto Marchetti from Turin.
The competition is named in honor of Francesco Procopio Cutò, the Sicilian chef who is considered the father of gelato and who exported gelato to France when he opened Café Le Procope in 1686. The three winners will be part of the Italian team at the Coppa del Mondo della Gelateria (Gelato World Championships), which will take place in 2014.
Creativity and natural ingredients were the main focus of the sixth edition of the Sherbeth Festival, a four-day event which began Thursday in Cefalù, dedicated to the promotion and celebration of artisan gelato. Forty gelato chefs from around the world, including Canada, Israel, Argentina, Japan and Morocco, produced forty different flavors for the enjoyment of the thousands of festival attendees, who were so lucky to taste such inventive and original flavors as Lemon Maple Syrup, Double Malt Beer, Fall Flavors: Praline Chestnuts, Hazelnuts and Almonds, Parmigiano from the earthquake-stricken lands of Emilia, Peach and Basil, Morning Flower: Milk, Croissant and Apricot Confiture. The gelato stands could be found along the main course on the picturesque town center, Corso Ruggero, on the seafront and at the pier.
Several fun and cultural events took place. “Bring your own fruit and create your sherbet” was the theme of the workshops held by the instructors of Carpigiani Gelato University, the university for aspiring gelato entrepreneurs: 3,000 people attended the workshops and had the chance to discover the ingredients of authentic artisan gelato, hear about the healthy and tasty qualities of sorbet, and learn the basics of gelato making, including balancing, freezing and preserving.
As a Sicilian school and museum for gelato are in the making, the festival hosted the presentation of Gelato Museum Carpigiani, the first-ever museum dedicated to the history, culture and technology of gelato, scheduled to open on September 27 in Anzola dell’Emilia (Bologna). The presentation included an overview of the history of gelato and its evolution, recounted by Luciana Polliotti, curator of Gelato Museum Carpigiani, who pointed out how it took centuries to arrive to the sublime perfection that is gelato today; and gelato chef Roberto Fiorino, who explained the origins of gelato, whose home is Sicily and whose original form was sorbet.
In fact, the name of the festival, sherbet, is an Arab word used to indicate the first sorbets produced in Sicily in the 9th century during Arab rule. Sorbet is a product of Arab culture which had an enormous influence in Sicily. In its most primitive form snow was used, and then flowers - the many flowers of Sicily - were added for flavor. Gelato chef Fiorino explained that modern-day gelatieri are rediscovering the ancient traditions of Sicily, such as the peach and basil flavour, the watermelon sorbet or the use of jasmine.
The festival winners: Raffaele del Verme, Santo Musumeci and Alberto Marchetti
Sherbeth Festival is an annual event held in Cefalù. For more information, please visit www.sherbethfestival.it .