Pursuit of the world’s best gelato

Not all gelato is created equal

AUSTIN, TX (CNN) – Gelato is ice cream’s Italian cousin, less fat, less air, and served just a bit softer than its frosty counterparts and like ice cream, not all gelato is created equal.

“Very important, too much sugar it won’t freeze. Too little cream and it gets icy,” said Matthew Lee.

After the September gelato world tour competition in Rimini, Italy, one gelato-maker will claim the title of world’s best.

Among 24 global gelato artisans, Matthew “Teo” Lee will be among North America’s representatives, meaning the world’s best gelato could soon hail from Texas, “They immediately start thinking of the Marlboro man and Clint east wood and all these different things and barbeque and not gelato. And then they start talking to you and they realize that you know food.”

When Lee started making gelato at his Austin shop 12 years ago, the city didn’t have the thriving food scene it does today. His business has grown alongside the culinary landscape.

“Austin is becoming a big food city. A lot of people like it and it’s actually a part probably on some the cutting edge some of a lot of food that is being served in restaurants and in what we’re doing,” Lee continued.

On a visit to northern Virginia, he showed us how to craft the flavor that won him a spot in Italy, called “nuts.”

Peanut butter, adults love it and kids love it. Nutella, adults love it and kids love it, not everybody but a lot of people. And so that’s why we did the peanut butter nutella and that was a big hit,” Lee said.

Working in this home kitchen was good practice for lee ahead of the competition. Italians don’t have a taste for peanut butter, so he’ll work from a new pecan and whiskey recipe. And he’ll also have to use different equipment, even a different composition of ingredients, than in his Texas shop.

The fat content of their milk and their cream is less. So we have 40 percent of butter fat in our whipping cream they have 35 percent. So when you add the sugars, the cream and the milk and all of these different total solids you have to balance it,” Lee continued.

Calculating an equation he hopes adds up to gelato, that’s deemed the world’s best.

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