Chefs aren’t made in the kitchen.
Chefs are made from something they have deep inside them –
an inner flame that burns brightly… with purpose, curiosity and passion.
In reality, true chefs pursue the creation of something better than yesterday and when they think they got it, they realise they don’t.
~ Gianpaolo Grazioli
A smiling face opens the door, and we walk through to the area behind the counter. I peek into the cosy kitchen and see that it resembles a laboratory – only it is fitted with stove facilities and edible ingredients. A purple cap finds its way to my head. I take in the sight of 24 cracked eggs caught in a bowl, yolks bobbing in the gloopy pool of whites. I smile at the myriad of utensils, pots, bowls, trays and litres of milk that line the shelves and fridge. I stare out the window at the other humans walking to work (and smile knowing that I will join them soon… BUT not just yet).
Slowly, a sense of unfounded familiarity and tingles of exhilaration wiggle through my toes.
I am in GIAPO’S kitchen.
This morning, Giapo is baking brownies to make brownie gelato. Fresh cream is whipped till it tries escaping from the mixer with violent jerks, and leaves in its wake a beautiful mound of butter. No store-bought chocolate is used (he uses fresh butter, choice cocoa powder and cocoa butter). Giapo gives me a sample of cocoa butter to taste – I am a little put off by its name because it sounds like a lotion, but I am struck by the luxurious quality of it, the way it reminds me of an edible bar of creamy soap – creamy but clean and not sticky in any way (“wow!” is what I want to say). In the course of the morning, he also makes a beautiful batch of dulce de leche and the bit I taste fresh from the pot leaves me feeling a little like I am walking on air.
The way everything whirls, mixes and cooks around me reminds me (just slightly) of one of my favourite Disney moments. I am as intrigued by the beautiful brownie-making process as I am by Giapo’s solid understanding of the science behind food/cooking. (The science of food is not yet my forte. I cook and bake by way of a certain random madness, and without an understanding of why ingredients act the way they do).
So I enjoy myself immensely watching the brownie come together, but I can’t shake off this funny feeling that lingers in my mind the whole time I am in the kitchen… until Giapo tells me he’s going to make a chocolate gelato and combine that with the brownie to make brownie gelato.
This is the moment at which everything feels illogical and marvellous all at once. Questions and answers start flying in and out of my head in rapid succession.
WHAT! WHY! I want to say. How does any of this make sense? Does everyone even really see/understand just how much work goes into this? Couldn’t you take more shortcuts? Couldn’t you use less good (and thus costly) ingredients? Why don’t you let supermarkets/stores etc carry your products? Why do you bake brownie from scratch? Why and how do you invent so many new flavours every single week? Why do you do what you do?
I’ve asked some of these questions before. But even as these questions surface in my mind, everything now makes complete sense in my heart. I already know that yes, GIAPO is a business with overhead costs. Yes, there is nothing to stop them from taking a few time and money-saving shortcuts. Yes, they could easily rely on market knowledge and stick to flavours that have been proven to be popular with the masses (rather than take a chance with experimental flavours). Yes, they could arrange for supermarkets and other stores to stock their gelato.
But the way I see it, GIAPO is not your average business. It’s a people-loving business/”Wonka factory”/thought leader/research lab/innovative centre/delicious gelato parlour and more, rolled into one magic entity. I think it’s less about sticking with the proven, or focusing on profits, or abiding by what some would label as “sense”…
The way I interpret it, it’s about the execution of a mission. Loving food and loving you. Fanning that inner flame. Embarking on a quest to experience life by tasting everything. Combining science, art and passion. Holding strong to values and principles in a society that doesn’t do this as much as they should. Pushing boundaries. Following a dream and vision. Having the courage to go where passion says to go. Making something gobsmackingly delicious, just ‘cos. Revolutionalising gelato, food and eating. Taking pride in their work. Having fun along the way.
And, as they say, giving you food that is as it should be – good for you. With a lot of love, commitment, excellent techniques, quality time and ingredients (no shortcuts or artificial content), and a sparkling dose of genius.
It’s taken me two days to write this post, and still I am not sure I have expressed myself adequately. But thank you for reading my clumsy words. If you’re in Auckland, please visit GIAPO and bring everyone you know. If you are not in New Zealand, well, get here. It’s a thoroughly beautiful country. And go to GIAPO.
Grazie mille Giapo, for the lovely privilege of spending an hour with you in your kitchen!
Giapo – 279-291 Queen Street, Auckland – Phone: 09 550 3677
oooh – that would have been so interesting! I’ve always thought doing some cooking/food tech course would be cool to learn the science behind it all…
It sure was, Rosie! Yes I know, I’d like to do a proper course one day soon… loving reading your Japan adventures by the way!
I love GIAPO. Kaffee Eis is good but they don’t have the variety and the novelty that GIAPO has – you tend to get the same kind of flavours on cycle at Kaffee Eis but at GIAPO, you get different things each time you visit! One of my favourites was a banana peanut butter and chocolate concoction called the “Colin Mathura Jeffries” ¯\(º_o)/¯
So agree. I like Kaffee Eis too but I love the GIAPO spirit excessively ;-). Oh man that Colin Mathura Jeffries sounds fab!
I will,I will and yes you expressed it beautifully, i understood! they love to feed us good stuff!.. I will be there in the summer! Next summer.. c
Woo hoo for Celi visiting!
What a fun experience! If I wasn’t sold on going to New Zealand before, I am now. ;) And that Disney scene is one of Miss A’s current favorites. :)
Clever Miss A :-)
I love their gelato and was just there last night, actually. Whenever I have people visiting I take them to GIAPO. It’s a definite must!
That sounds amazing. I love the process and cocoa butter, hmm…
Thanks Greg, it most certainly was….
I’m totally envious! What a great experience. Cooking is like a science experiment (I used to work in research), but way, way better as you get something delicious at the end of it instead of bands on a gel.
Haha! Yes delicious outcomes help ;-)
and how did you manage to get into the kitchen miss mel? :)
By begging and coercion…
Love it hehe nice work xx
It really was!
A peek into GIAPO’s kitchen wow! I am going to enjoy this one…