Gelato scoops the prize pool
James Oliver may be only 22, but he’s already a master at making icecream.
Last month the Takapuna man, who shares the same name as the celebrity chef, scooped the pool at the New Zealand icecream awards.
All seven flavours he entered won medals – even his experimental bacon and egg flavoured icecream.
James has had his own factory in Albany for a year and prides himself on making his product from scratch, using the best ingredients.
He does the quality control himself, trying each flavour to make sure it’s up to his high standards. And he’s not sick of icecream yet. “I still eat it myself after a year,” he says.
His toasted coconut, lime and mascarpone icecream and manuka honey gelato won golds.
His vanilla bean, poached pear and blue cheese, pumpkin and caramelised pecan flavours won silver, as did his mango colada-sorbet.
James emulates the northern Italy style of gelato which is creamy and uses a lot of eggs.
The blue cheese icecream has chunks of blue cheese and the bacon and egg flavour has bacon infused in the milk and increased egg yolk in the mix.
“We do everything, including poaching the pears, ourselves.”
His love of sweet things and food came from his mother, who was a dessert and pastry chef.
He then travelled around Italy learning how to make authentic gelato before setting up his business, which employs one other person.
“I have loved Italian cuisine since I was little,” says James.
He currently supplies his icecreams to delicatessens in Devonport, Ponsonby and Glen Innes.
He prides himself on quality over quantity and has a maximum batch size of 100 litres.
And does he ever get confused with his famous namesake?
“I do get the odd joke but not too often,” he says.
But unlike the other Oliver, he is adamant he will not sell his product to supermarkets.
Other winners were The Kiwi Icecream Company, Massey University food technology students, Monica’s Pizza and Gelato Cafe in Milford, Penguino Icecream in Browns Bay and Takapuna Beach Cafe and Store.
Icecream king: Award-winning gelato maker James Oliver.