There we were on our honeymoon in Prague, soon to go gelato tasting in Vienna, and still a couple of years away from that fateful trip to Argentina where Samy introduced me to her favorite gelato (Sanbayon) and I found mine (Coconut with dulce de leche and chocolate chips). By time we went to Argentina, Samy had been unemployed for nearly a year, and upon returning, we decided to start making gelato. We hoped just to make some to sell at farmer's markets locally until we learned that frozen desserts are classified as potentially hazardous substances, and that we would have to rent a facility and get licensed to make it legally. We chose to open a shop close to our home so that we could have easy access to checking up on our teenage children and our dogs from there.
Along the way, a friend of Jules mentioned that he was lactose intolerant, along with many other people, and would it be possible to make our gelato lactose-free. So, as Samy took classes in New York and Buenous Aires, Jules began to look into removing the lactose. We came up with a base recipe with a clean pure taste by treating simple ingredients with lactase enzyme. We later figured out from customers that the new sugar (galactose) made by breaking the lactose has a unique sweetness that people simply love. It allowed us to use a little less sugar and corn syrup than typical gelato recipes, and still tasted sweet and clean. That makes us one of the rare gelato shops to make gelato truly from scratch in a pasteurizer, and virtually the only one with lactose-free gelato.
We decided to model our first shop after an Argentinean cafe, and of course, Samy had to have clean Tiffany blue walls, white casework, and pendulum lights. Jules tried to squeeze as much equipment as possible into the design of a 300 sq ft kitchen. With the cafe theme and our mutual love for cappuccino, we met local coffee roaster Jim Hogan and put in an espresso machine to serve coffee and affogato (espresso on gelato). We tried to import our favorite chocolates, the "Konito" or "Havannette" by Havanna in Argentina, but found that it would be too hard to export. Jules decided to take a chocolate class with the goal of learning how to make them and wound up finding he had a natural talent for creating and making fine chocolates. His training and decades of experience in chemistry, crystallization, and materials science made chocolate easy to understand and refine. We put in an oven to bake croissants and fell in love with a croissant dough producer in Connecticut. After opening, with summer gelato sales slowing down, we added pies and cakes in time for Thanksgiving, working to perfect our scratch cake recipes, frosting recipes, and techniques for frosting cakes. Finally, we managed to have one single vacation during our five years in business to Burlington, VT right after the Valentines Day rush. We visited Lake Champlain chocolates where we learned that Easter is a major chocolate Holiday. Upon returning, we bought Easter egg and Easter bunny molds, and Samy feverishly studied hand-decorated Easter eggs. She has loved decorating chocolate Easter eggs ever since, and they have become something our customers look forward to every year.
After the second year, it became apparent that we would not be able to produce and store enough food in that tiny kitchen to keep the shelves full. We searched for legal places to put commercial refrigerators and freezers so that we could at least produce bigger batches of food and store them to cover peak periods, but the local economy was booming and nobody had room for us. We took a hard path and rented warehouse space in Ashland were we designed, and redesigned, and redesigned again a dream kitchen until it met the demands of the Ashland building department. By time we finished construction we had depleted our life savings on the project and opened just in time to face Covid-19.
During the covid lockdown, it became clear that people needed meals more than they needed dessert, and so we created comfort food with the same philosophy as all of our other food: it had to be delicious and made from scratch as if you were cooking it at home. Sales of our frozen entrees quickly climbed to a quarter of our total sales as word spread about the delicious meals.
Samy died tragically after years of struggle with clinical depression and excruciating migraines that were nearly impossible to treat. Jules is heartbroken, but has vowed to hold the business together and continue making the foods that Samy loved so much, right down to making the Easter eggs by reproducing her designs from photos. He remains grateful to the community for their support, and for the love that sustained Samy for so many years.