As the restrictions relating to the pandemic have been easing I have enjoyed getting out and about visiting some of our customers and some new start ups all around the UK. A particular point which repeatedly gets raised is the difficulty of replicating the stylistic displays we create for exhibitions and in the cabinet at the Antonelli Gelato Academy. I am frequently asked how to make customers’ working cabinet look as good as ours. So what is my answer do you think?…
My answer is usually simply ‘don’t’! That might not be what you expected, but as far as I am concerned really the question is ‘Should I make my cabinet look like showcase cabinets at an exhibition?’ The answer is ‘no’ – why? – because those cabinets are showcase displays designed to demonstrate different techniques as well as flavours. In reality for a working cabinet there is no need to put yourself under pressure to provide an array of different pan styles. Exhibition cabinets (if you can remember the last ones you saw in 2019) are created to ‘show off’ and demonstrate a variety of techniques plus they only need to last a couple of days.
By a ‘working cabinet’ I am referring to cabinets in your gelaterias and parlours wherever you are based around the UK – seaside, town, farm, shopping centre etc. You are serving customers day to day as well as making replacement pans, keeping up your social media posts, monitoring your stock levels, ordering ingredients from suppliers, making sure your shop is cleaned, keeping on top of hygiene and so the list goes on… which brings me to the first factor affecting a working cabinet which is find more information time. Creating fancy displays does take time that you don’t always have in a working environment. It is more important to ensure your cabinet has a full range of pans rather than a restricted number of fancy displays.
Another factor is ensuring your napolis last until they run out . This may sound like I am stating the obvious, but what I mean is to ensure you maintain the quality of the texture and flavour throughout the life of the pan. Does your gelato still taste as good in the last serving as it did in the first? The higher the dome on the display, the shorter time that pan is likely to last and if it does last it will be very tricky to serve as it gets towards the end because it will go hard. What we are talking about here is shelf life or maybe ‘cabinet life’ (no I am not referring to Boris’s refurbishment costs – hopefully by the time you read this that will no longer be headline news).
I like to use analogies as you probably have realised by now, so my answer is simple. When you test drive a new car, how often do you test drive the very basic model? More often than not the model of the test car is one with a sun roof or its a sporty model, has a fancy infotainment system or a bigger engine. Why? The car dealership want you to fall in love with the car and maybe buy a few of the extras you now feel you can’t live without. When we create showcase cabinets we want to show you a range of flavour and decoration styles – we want them to look amazing so they attract your attention. Even if you aren’t asking us about the flavours you might be asking us about how to create the different displays and we can then talk to you about the flavours and other products too.
Of course you want to draw your customers to your cabinet as well, but you have to do that in a sustainable way. At an exhibition we only need to keep the display looking attractive for 2 or 3 days.
My view is keep it simple – at least for the summer months when you know you will be busy. The chances are you will all be very busy this summer as many more of us will be holidaying in the UK again and we are all more than ready to treat ourselves to an artisan ice cream, whether away from home or on a day trip. You may already have a particular style which fits your brand or that you are comfortable creating, but if you are just starting out select something simple like ‘fronging’ or ‘doming’ and keep to just one or two variations of this, certainly until you are established or the peak of the season is over. Be careful with how much rippling you do as well as the sugar in the ripple will affect the structure of the ice cream or gelato. Go for less height and more volume. I would also suggest that during busy periods you avoid using layering techniques like you might for cheesecake as it is time consuming.
From a quantity perspective I would recommend sticking to 12 double pans rather than 18 single pans this has two advantages a) it will save you time in making and b) it reduces the list of options for customers to select from which can delay serving time as people choose between flavours. Twelve options is plenty to select from.
You may have attended training courses in the past or had a one to one with me where I have demonstrated different decoration styles and enthused about different ideas. A good time to try new styles is in the Autumn when sales are lower and you have more time, plus you may need to try something different to create a bit of intrigue and differentiate your offering from your competitors. This is the time to experiment with funky napoli mould tops and different cutting and layering techniques not in the summer when you are run off your feet.
So my main message to you is don’t put pressure on yourself and keep it simple. As always if you would like more advice on a practical level then do get in touch. Otherwise see you next time for the latest scoop.
http://crossfitraze.com/page/4/ Antonelli’s National Technical Manager Jonny Ireland is a regular contributor to the ICA’s Ice Cream Magazine…
See how this article looked in the June 2021 Edition of the ICA’s Ice Cream Magazine…