Aug 23, 2017
Yes, Donato Toce has gelato for breakfast. And he actually gets
paid for it – it's part of his job. He is the "cow milker, sugar
hauler, head chef and gelatiere" at Gelato Messina, the much-loved
Sydney institution that sells desserts such as Elvis The Fat Years,
Robert Brownie Jr, Biggie S’Mores, This Is How We Scroll and the
Game of Cones range inspired by the seven kingdoms of Westeros.
(There are also great non-pun-related flavours, too, like tiramisu,
apple pie and pistachio – the latter made using nuts hand-picked by
grandmothers at the foothills of Mount Etna).
Donato used to be the head chef at A Tavola, opposite the original
Darlinghurst store, but he was compelled to join Gelato Messina
eventually. Pavlova, once of his first gelato flavours, was a
massive hit and typical of Messina's ultra-creative experiments
(which have included the time they made roast chicken sorbet, for
instance, or the disastrous tomato flavour).
There have been multiple marriage proposals at Messina (there are
now 16 stores) and it's become such an institution, there are even
Messina-inspired Tim Tams in supermarkets.
Of course, when you're dealing with gelato, there's always a fear
there'll be a melting disaster (and Donato definitely has lived
through some intense experiences). And there are the "spreadsheets
of freezability" that Donato has to maintain.
He chats about all this – plus the Messina queues, how the biggest
compliment he ever received was via a complaint, the seven-course
dessert degustations at Messina Creative Department, where he likes
to eat and drink in Sydney – and more.