We're counting our blessings that gelato has less fat than ice cream because there's a good chance we're going to be eating a lot of it this summer. On Monday night at Gelato Spot in Scottsdale, a dozen local chefs unveiled artisanal gelato flavors, each of which represents the signature style of his or her cuisine. They'll be available, three every month, at each of the five Gelato Spot locations and will compete in a contest to capture the title of "Best Chef Flavor."
Fans of frozen dessert can look forward to an exciting lineup of flavors over the next few months -- some will cool you down while others are meant to spice things up.
The inaugural Gelato Spot "Top Chef Flavor Competition" kicked off Monday and will run through August. Each month, you'll be able to taste and vote for one of three artisanal gelato flavors. A winner will be chosen monthly and the three semi-finalists will compete for the title in a weeklong competition in September. A portion of the proceeds from the thee-month competition will be donated to Phoenix Children's Hospital.
So what can you expect from the creative minds of Phoenix's chefs? Here's the menu:
- Bananas Foster with Aji Amarillo Chef Matt Carter of The Mission, Zinc Bistro, The House
- Drunken Arizona Date Cake Chef Payton Curry of Brat Haus A frozen take on one of the restaurant's signature items, this flavor comes topped with a memorable toffee sauce and is sure to be a crowd pleaser.
- Shoyu Caramel Chocolate with Candied Coconut Peanut Streuzel and Toaster Marshmallow Sauce Chef Tracy Dempsey of Tracy Dempsey Originals
Sweet with lingering spice courtesy of the Aji Amarillo, a Peruvian yellow chile pepper.
We'd eat Tracy Dempsey's marshmallow on just about anything. And this Indonesian-inspired take on Rocky Road is not only totally unique but well-balanced, thoughtfully executed and truly delicious.
- The Elvis: Peanut Butter and Banana gelato with Bacon, Strawberry Sauce and Cookie Crunch Chefs Keen Bosworth and Joshua Reisner of Pig & Pickle
- Olive Oil with Lemon Zest and Stracciatella Chef Cullen Campbell of Crudo
- The PB&J: Peanut Butter with Raspberry Port Brown Butter Sauce Chef James Fox of Bootleggers
It's a playful flavor that (because it's Pig & Pickle, of course!) contains salty chunks of bacon and the occasional crunch of cookie. A little disparate for our taste but not at all a bad choice.
Simple and ingredient driven, just like the food at Crudo, this flavor won't knock you out but delivers on the subtle-but-rich flavor of olive oil
You had us swooning at "raspberry port brown butter sauce" and that truly is the highlight of this flavor. Mine though your scoop and if you're lucky there will be a ruby nugget of brown butter goodness at the bottom. But beware: It can get a bit too oily.
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- Schnepf Farms Peach Cobbler Chefs Justin Beckett and Jeff Schoening of Beckett's Table
- Coconut Lime Ginger Sorbet Chef Walter Sterling
- Strawberry Miso Chef Josh Hebert of Posh
Made with local peaches from Schnepf Farms this light and fruity-flavored dessert is perfect for the hot Arizona summer, refreshing enough to wake up your taste buds without being overly rich.
This is the only sorbet in the lineup but represents the genre well. It's a cooling flavor that finishes with a delicate ginger aroma.
Hebert's been known to take inspiration from Asian cuisine -- he did after all, soak up the Japanese culture for a period of time. His miso gelato greets the mouth with fruity notes up front and a curious (at least at first) salty finish.
The event also featured a preview of Italian-inspired eats from a new venture Gelato Spot owner Tommy Plato plans to unveil this fall. Plato says he's preparing to open a food and lounge concept above the Gelato Spot location in Old Town Scottsdale. It will be called "Second Story," and though things are still in the works, he says it will be a casual place to get a drink -- and possible late-night eats -- without having to deal with the hustle and bustle of other Scottsdale spots.
This month's flavors are available now at all Gelato Spot locations. For more information and for dates and times when you can meet-and-greet the chefs, visit the Gelato Spot website. Voting can be done via text message, in person, on Yelp and Facebook or by buying a scoop or party pack of a Top Chef flavor.