Located at the heart of Auckland’s city center is Giapo Haute Ice Cream, a popular spot for inventive, designer ice cream. Best known for their use of innovative technology (Chef Giapo studied Food Science, so he knows what he’s doing) when creating their stimulating pieces of food art, locals line the streets to get a cone at the Italian creator’s restaurant. On a recent trip to New Zealand, I was lucky enough to be part of privileged group who were automatically escorted to the Italian chef’s workroom upstairs. Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody rock opera played on large speakers and the wall was filled with sketches of crazy ice-cream ideas (including a Star Wars Storm Trooper Head). By simply observing the space, it was easy to picture the kind of person Giapo was. Could he be a mad scientist of sorts?
When Giapo entered, he began discussing his process almost instantly. He spoke with passion about what he and his wife (and business partner) Anna Rosa were doing at Giapo’s—they are trying to further elevate the experience of eating ice cream. Giapo and his family are of Italian heritage, and fell in love with New Zealand a couple of years ago, deciding it would be their permanent residence. The tall, energetic man went as far as saying that there is nothing Italian about his ice cream. “It is not gelato, because everything in it 100% New Zealand. We want to change how people are looking at ice cream. We want to concentrate on looking at ice cream through different lenses. It has always been seen as a dessert, but things can change. With some designs, we are trying to transcend the art and give it new meaning,” he told us while touring us through his kitchen. There was a madness about him, but mostly because he was so passionate about his art form, and those in attendance were in awe of that.
He and his wife’s artistic process all begins with a sketch. They design what their ice cream would look like by drawing it down on paper, even before deciding on its flavor. Unusual for sure, but for Giapo, it is highly effective. Whether it the silhouette of a famous movie character, a gigantic squid inspired by an ancient myth, or even the iconic Sky Tower, Giapo takes inspiration from his day to day life. The Italian chef is also a gentleman, continuously saying that Anna Rosa and his children are what makes him great. “I basically work for her,” he laughs while serving us mounds upon mounds of flavorful creations. When a design is selected, they experiment on flavors and other new technologies to form their desired (often-quirky shapes). The result: a flavorful creation, executed in such a special way that it makes Giapo such a district brand that can be found nowhere else in the world but New Zealand. It’s almost like food art that is simply too beautiful to eat.
As you begin to eat one of his ice creams, the taste buds are treated to a full ride. His creations are so full of different textures that eating it feels like an exciting journey. For instance, my personal favorite called the Hot Chips & Ice Cream was inspired by those who dip their French fries into their soft served ice-cream (see the photo above). Giapo lifts this to a whole, new culinary height, replacing soft-served vanilla with a sumptuous caramel delight, and using fresh potatoes to compliment it. It is a sinful treat worthy of consuming time and time again.
As per expansion, the couple does have future plans but are in no rush to do it. They mention that the most important way to do it is to do it right. It was even shared that evening that they were once offered $4 million to franchise the popular culinary spot, and yet they refused to sell it. They weren’t ready to let their vision into the hands of somebody else just yet. For now, as global audiences wait for the expansion of the Instagram famous brand, we should all just plan another trip to Auckland and spend a whole day consuming Giapo’s wonderful creations. It’s so good that it’s worth traveling thousands of miles for a cone.
Giapo is located at 12 Gore Street, Auckland. For more information visit www.giapo.com