“Ah!” a scream of pleasure, I utter as I lick the cream of hazelnut. There is an emotion hidden inside. But what is it? It’s calling me to it.
Starting as a mere summer intern gelataio (Italian ice-cream artisan) in Vienna to his mastery of a gelato kingdom in Hong Kong, Paolo Predonzan has decided to continue growing his activities. In his quest to expand the ranks of gelato aficionados, he is adding operations in Macau in a couple of months, followed by Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Shanghai, Beijing, etc. in plan.
After seven years in the area, Paolo has adopted Hong Kong’s work ethic while maintaining some balance. He works seven days a week but hikes at 6 am in the morning for leisure. This focus on work seems counter to his Italian nature, a nationality known for its relaxed lifestyle. Yet, Paolo himself claimed, “The only way for a business to survive in Hong Kong is to keep growing; otherwise, someone on your back will eat you.”
From his training at Eis106, one of the top five gelaterie in Vienna, which is known as the capital of gelato, Paolo has developed his own secret recipe. Indeed, the ratio of ingredients determines one’s success. According to Paolo, in order to produce the delicious gelato, all processes and ingredients are given the highest attention. Air must be naturally stirred into the mixture at levels less than 30% in order to maintain its characteristically rich texture. Normally bargain ice-creams are composed large amounts of air, thereby disappearing immediately in mouth. In contrast, many premium ice-creams attain fullness with a high amount of cream (which is fat). Amazingly, gelato has that full, creamy texture with only 6% fat. Paolo strives to keep it low in fat, especially with Hong Kong’s sub-tropical climate.
Using his skills, talent, and creativity, Paolo has already created 450 flavours to date, while Eis106 sold only 16 flavours. He said, “Hong Kong people are very adventurous in trying new things, including new flavours.” Like other chefs, Paolo is continually striving to create new flavours to meet our desires. As the provider of gelato for more than 120 restaurants in Hong Kong, he is required to produce many kinds of flavours, like risotto saffron, tong sui – papaya and white fungus soup, and foie gras.
Paolo’s assistants, Jenny and Lilly have worked with him from the beginning even before “I Scream” existed. Since they help in production and buying, especially the Chinese ingredients (e.g., mushroom, seaweed, white fungus), they have learned the secrets to creating delectable gelato while building fluency in English and learning some Italian as well. Compared to their abilities with languages, Paolo has much to learn. Perhaps Cantonese is simply too hard for this ice cream genius.