Houston Chef-inspired gelato line hits stores

On August 23, 2011

Italian Spumoni by Chef Nash D'Amico.: Melissa Phillip

Written by Greg Morago, 29-95 Monday, August 22 2011

Marcelo Kreindel, owner of Trentino Gelato, has worked with many passionate Houston chefs by creating gelato and sorbet to their specifications for their restaurants. His 5-year-old business — known for making the richest, silkiest, freshest frozen treats — is a favorite among local chefs looking for local gelato made with top notch ingredients.

Now Kreindel is returning that affection by giving a delicious shout-out to some of his favorite chefs. Trentino Chef Series Gelato offers pints of chef-inspired flavors bearing the likeness of Houston’s best cooking talents. The new line of gelato includes flavors inspired by Monica Pope (t’afia), Robert Del Grande (RDG + Bar Annie, Ava Brasserie, Pizzeria Alto), Anita Jaisinghani (Indika, Pondicheri), Ryan Pera (Revival Market), Nash D’Amico (D’Amico’s Italian Market Café) and Jonathan Jones (Beaver’s, El Xuco Xicana), all of whom have lent their names to Trentino’s new venture.

This week pints of gelato labeled with drawings of the chefs (each chef approved of his or her flavor and helped develop the flavor profile) will be available at Central Market to be followed next week by Whole Foods. Revival Market in the Heights will begin carrying it as soon as it gets inventory.

“He’s always done a great job, so when he approached me on it, it was a no-brainer,” said Pera, whose flavor is Sorghum Sea Salt — a vanilla gelato swirled with a ribbon of bold sorghum syrup from Yoakum and grains of sea salt from Galveston Island. The flavor perfectly captures Revival’s mission of showcasing local ingredients, purveyors and food artisans, Pera said.

Pope, who Kreindel says was among his first big supporters, echoed Pera’s sentiments, saying she agreed to do the project to help someone with a good reputation among local chefs. “He supports us and we support him; it’s simple,” she said. “It doesn’t just promote local chefs, it’s about local ingredients and local concepts. And it’s fun. It’s fun to see my ice cream in the store. It’s not an ego thing, it’s more like me getting behind him.”
Pope, whose flavor is mascarpone gelato with seasonal berries, will be sample scooping with Kreindel on Aug. 27 from 2 to 4 p.m. at Whole Foods Montrose. The pints have a suggested retail price between $7.50 and $7.99.

Kreindel said he’s had the idea for local chef-inspired flavors since he opened his small gelato operation in 2006. “But we weren’t ready. Now we think it’s the moment to make it happen,” said the 36-year-old Argentinean who gave up a career in software management information systems to launch his gelato company. He began small-batch scooping at Pope’s farmers market in Midtown and then attracting chef clients and staking out retail sales at Spec’s, Whole Foods, Central Market, Phoenicia Deli and Rice Epicurean.

If the current chef flavors become popular with customers, Kreindel said he may launch a second round of flavors with the existing chefs and/or add other Houston chefs to the collection. He also hopes that other Texas cities might be interested in a chef series of gelato; and perhaps other big cities in the country. Kreindel said he’d be happy to make them.

Phil Myers, Central Market general manager, is impressed by the range of flavors and the stark, black-and-white packaging (drawings were done by Emily Grenader). “It’s absolutely unique, especially with the chef’s portraits,” he said. “They’re all different and as unique as each chef is.”

At the moment there’s no compensation for the participating chefs, Kreindel said. “Without their help it would be impossible for me to do it,” he added.

But Pope said it’s not about making a profit. “That’s not a concern for any of us,” she said. “When he came to me with this it was, ‘whatever you need.’ ”

That camaraderie is what makes the local food scene special, Kreindel said. And it’s why he created the series with some of his favorite clients and friends.

Plus, Kreindel added, gelato is special — so special he added his own flavor to the Chef’s Series: almond fig.
“It’s not something you have to have to live, but it’s something that will make you happy,” he said. “I like that.”

TRENTINO GELATO CHEFS
Monica Pope — Mascarpone with Berries: Rich mascarpone studded with raspberries, blackberries, strawberries and blueberries.
Robert Del Grande — Sundae Sermon No. 1: Chocolate and coffee with smoked almonds.
Jonathan Jones — Peanut Butter Chipotle: Nutty peanut butter with a smoky chile kick.
Anita Jaisinghani — Saffron Spice: Saffron base with the perfumed flavors of cardamom, fennel seeds and rose water.
Nash D’Amico — Italian Spumoni: a combination of chocolate, house-cured cherry and Sicilian pistachio.
Ryan Pera — Sorghum Sea Salt: Salty, sweet and crunchy with a ribbon of local sorghum syrup.
Marcelo Kreindel — Almond Fig: Lush fig and ground roasted almonds.

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