When we think of ice cream flavours, the typical tastes of vanilla, chocolate and strawberry get many mouths watering. However, when it comes to gelato, the palatable possibilities are endless, where flavours like salmon or blue cheese are not ridiculed but relished.
These endless possibilities of inventing flavours is what prompted Dubai resident Fouad Askar to go back to university to get educated in gelato making.
"I've always been interested in the culinary food business and when it comes to gelato, the invention of new flavours," the civil engineer said. "I follow in Europe every year how they introduce new flavours such as olive oil, salmon and blue cheese and I tasted some of them and they were really good."
Askar was among the 12 students who graduated from the Carpigiani Gelato University's advanced gelato making course last week in Dubai. Students came from as far afield as Nigeria and Uzbekistan. A majority of whom were entrepreneurs who went back to school to gain first class skills in order to capitalise on the booming business of gelato making.
"As we anticipated since the last graduation of the basic gelato making course in October, we've had a lot of requests based on our great success last time," Cristina Dalla Mora, marketing director of Polo Point International, who run the Carpigiani campus in Dubai, said. "When we opened the booking for this course, we sold out the 12 places in three days, which shows the growth of interest in gelato making."
In hot climates like the UAE and surrounding regions, experts see huge potential for the growth of this specialist market, offering a lucrative career path to those who dare.
"It's an extremely profitable business because gelato is a product with an easy 40 per cent gross margin, unheard of in most businesses," Luciano Ferrari, senior instructor at Carpigiani, said. "All over the world in the restaurant business, if the gross margin reaches 10 per cent, it's regarded as something big. So, there is nothing that has an added value such as gelato."
The gross margin represents the percentage of total sales revenue a company retains after subtracting the direct costs associated with producing the goods and services sold by a company.
"The fact there is a request of more advanced education here in Dubai shows there is a real desire to improve," he said. "It also shows the education delivered six months ago has been capitalised and the learners are asking for what's next."
Last week's graduates were awarded their certificates by Giorgio Starace, the Italian Ambassador to the UAE, who is a personal advocate of the Italian delicacy. "I consider myself privileged to have grown up with gelato as a part of my life as it is one of the many emblems of Italy," he said. "In this country [UAE], at this moment, we are exporting €4 billion [approximately Dh19.5 billion] of gelatos made in Italy."
He added within the last year, the trade of Italian products has seen a 27 per cent increase in the UAE.
"Many of the merchandise we export in this country are associated with the beautiful life, so we export beautiful cars like Maserati and Ferrari, for example," he said. "However, on an increasing level, we see a rise in the exports of agro-food products, which indicates this market is ready to absorb Italian lines in every sector."