Meet the man behind Australia's best ice cream

Hannah Koelmeyer
21 January, 2015

Donato Toce, the genius behind our favourite ice cream, gives us the scoop on Gelato Messina.

Donato Toce, head chef at Gelato Messina

Q: You take a highly scientific approach to cooking at Gelato Messina. Do you find that restrictive?

The finished product is driven by its science but what is driving the science is the creativity – so it’s not restrictive at all.

Q: What kind of cooking do you do outside of the Messina lab?

Comfort, comfort, comfort.

Q: Do you make gelato at home?

Granita, yes and the gelato; I bring that home.

Q: If so, what equipment do you use?

In the early days I went all out and got myself a Paco Jet (a bit full on for a domestic machine). It’s a great machine; I still have it and still use it … mostly at work now.

Q: What are the top 3 things a home gelato-maker needs to do to ensure a great end-result?

A great recipe, a great machine and good-quality ingredients.

Q: What sets Messina apart from other gelato?

Each flavour is balanced according to its ingredients – to make sure the product works well both freshly-churned and to sit in the cabinet for a longer period. Every single recipe is different. We have 35 standard flavours and a bank of close to 2000 recipes for specials. Our additions are all made by us in-house allowing us to create the right composition and flavour for each intricate recipe.

Behind the scenes in the Gelato Messina lab

Q: You guys come up with some pretty inventive flavour combinations. Have there been any failed experiments along the way?

So many… too many to name.

Q: You’re teaching a masterclass on gelato infusions in Melbourne soon – how is this different to other styles of gelato?

Infusion is an amazing way of drawing flavour from an ingredient, especially ones you really cannot add to the gelato. In most gelato the flavour is the main ingredient, however with infusion you have added the flavour – in this case into the milk to give the gelato the flavour.

Donato Toce will be appear at the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival 27 Feb–15 March, as part of the Chef MasterClass sessions (Donato's masterclass is unfortunately sold out, but check out the festival program for other fantastic chef events).


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