Seb Cole of Boho Gelato – with shops in Pool Valley and Ship Street – participated as part of the national team at the European championships of the Gelato World Cup in Rimini, Italy last weekend alongside fellow gelato maker Taseer Ahmad of Fabulous Ice Fires and patissier Tracey Rashid of Essence of Cake, both from south London.
“Several years ago, when I was at the granita festival in Palermo in Sicily I met Taseer”, said Seb.
“We said we’d stay in touch but lost contact – mostly because of the events of the last couple of years – so I was really surprised when he phoned me towards the end of November last year and said he’d been invited to put a UK team together for the Gelato World Cup”.
“He needed a gelato chef and pastry chef for the team and told me he could think of nobody more suited to the gelato role than me. I obviously jumped at the opportunity!”.
The annual Gelato World Cup is the pinnacle event of the ice-cream world, requiring high levels of multi-disciplinary skills from competitors. Spanning five continents, each region has its own championships before the finalists from each go forward to battle it out – again back in Rimini – to find crème de la crème winner.
Of the UK team, Seb says that the stars were aligned in many ways.
“It didn’t really click with me until the event that Tracey, Taseer and I are all originally from the same London postcode area”, he said.
“We also share the same background that none of us are classically trained in our fields. We’ve all started our own sweet food businesses based on personal passion and having broken off or retired from a completely different career before”.
“I think we complemented each other with our skills, experience and personalities and made a really great team”, continued Seb.
“Taseer is a born showman – having had a previous life in architectural design he has amazing and complex conceptual ideas. Tracey brought knowledge of pastry processes and decorative skill – as well as a calming influence to Taseer and I as we both have a tendency to be somewhat energetic – and I brought the technical and creative knowledge when it comes to ice cream recipes as well as the skills and knowledge of the equipment required to prepare the products”.
The competition required teams prepare entries across five categories: Decorated Tray, Monoportion, Gelato Cake, Artistic Nougatine Sculpture and Mystery Box.
Explaining the Monoportion round, Seb says team UK took inspiration from an extinction theme.
“We made a realistic-looking glazed pear sitting on a silver goblet using pear and perry jelly, white chocolate ganache, Stichelton blue cheese and a Bere barley crumb; all our ingredients are at risk of disappearing in the near future”.
“For example, the pear and perry were made with Coppy pear – there is only one known tree left in the UK; Stichelton cheese is now only made by one producer in Nottinghamshire as commercial production of Stilton has risen to prominence; Bere barley is only found at one mill in Orkney”.
With tough competition from host Italy and other traditional gelato producing nations, the UK team were licked to the finish but awarded a very respectable fifth place.
“Considering the depth of experience and world-renowned talent on show from the other teams we were over the moon to be placed fifth”, said Seb.
“The UK is not a country with a tradition for ice cream and decorative pastry yet for the other countries involved such as Italy, France, Spain and Austria it’s a whole way of life that they have grown up with and a tradition that’s been passed down and nurtured through generation after generation”.
“For me – and I am sure I speak for Tracey and Taseer too – it’s a genuine honour to have even to be asked to compete, let alone place where we did. As a passionate gelato maker, I’m proud that I can represent the UK and Brighton on the world culinary stage”.
Boho Gelato, 31 Ship Street and 6 Pool Valley, Brighton