Gelato & me
MEET GELATO CHEF DAVID RESTIVO
“I wanted to make people happy. I believe everyone deserves to be treated with kindness. Everyone struggles with something – bad relationships, work and career – and I wanted to bring a smile and a bit of happiness to my community.”
My first taste of gelato, in Italy in 2012, was a revelation. Why wasn’t this amazing treat all over the US? It was one of the best things I’d ever eaten. I tried every favor I could. Flash forward a year, and I’d hit a rough patch at work. When a coworker asked what I would do if I could do anything at all, I didn’t hesitate: Sell homemade gelato out of a restored milk truck. Work continued to be a challenge, and I kept going back to my gelato-making dream. We—my wife, sons, and I—decided to go for it.
Enjoying gelato in Florence, Italy
Making It Happen
In 2015 I traveled to North Carolina to take a gelato and sorbetto class from Italian instructors. After a week learning techniques, performing calculations (so much math!), and testing recipes, we were put to the test—make our own recipe for judging by our peers. To my surprise and delight, the blueberry basil sorbetto I made was voted best in class. Maybe this wasn’t so crazy after all!
I went home, bought a countertop gelato maker, and made a LOT of gelato. I also found 2 milk trucks of my dreams—a 1963 International Harvester Metro and AB140, the exact same models my grandfather drove to deliver milk in the 1950s. I took another hands-on class in Italy in 2019 and an online class in 2022 (ugh, a reasonable hour in Italy translated to 1 to 5 am MT!).
The dream was within reach. The milk truck restorations didn’t pan out (but it will someday - let me know if you know someone who can restore it!), so we bought an Italian gelato cart and a commercial gelato machine. More practice, lots of failures (the cherry pulp explosion!) and successes, and I was ready to go public. Dave’s Gelato started at the Columbia Falls Sunday Market in June 2022. A week later, I catered a wedding for 300. And it was a success!
So where do we go from here? More online and in-person classes, events, work on getting a wholesale license to partner with local businesses, figure out how to ship, and restore the milk trucks. Most of all, keep having fun and putting a smile on peoples’ faces. And eat more gelato!
Blueberry basil sorbetto!
The gelato lab classroom in Italy
My International Harvester AB140
I found inspiration for my cart in Italy