The world’s largest Gelato Festival is held in Florence, where Italy’s signature sweet treat was invented in 1559. And while it’s a romance novel cliche, you really should eat, pray and love your way through the city and its surrounding Tuscan region — until then, its famous Gelato Festival is coming to the U.S. and making a stop in New York area.
Making its first-ever appearance on the East Coast, Gelato Festival America kicks off its eight-city tour on Aug. 11-12 in Jersey City’s Liberty State Park, a one-stop trip across the Hudson River via PATH or NY Waterway ferry.
Each destination features some of the best gelato makers in the world joined by a local star, all challenged to come up with unique creations just for the festival. Just to give you an idea, past flavors have included Polish plum with cinnamon, Tunisian baklava and gooseberry-avocado.
Your all-inclusive ticket is $25 for adults and $20 for kids during the online pre-sale; once those are sold out, prices go up by $5. For this, you get to sample every flavor by the competing chefs, with additional flavors presented by gelato-related brands presenting at the festival.
Between tastings, drop into the Gelato School to learn about the history of Italy’s take on ice cream — it was country’s original culinary ambassador to the world, before pizza and spaghetti! You’ll also see how it’s made, test your skills to see if you could crack it in a gelateria, watch chef demonstrations or just find a comfy spot to relax and meditate on checking out next year’s festival in Florence because everything tastes better in the place where it was invented.
Each city will have a different number of participating chefs (up to 12), plus additional out-of-competition flavors from participating brands. Winners will be chosen by a vote split between an expert tasting panel and the general public. Kids get their own special grand jury where the gelato chefs have to defend their flavors. These chefs better hope they’re as cool under pressure as their treats.
An estimated 5,000 gelato chefs are expected to compete in the various cities’ Gelato Festivals, with the best 36 chefs coming together for a grand final event to take place in 2021 in Italy, where they will vie for the title of Gelato Festival World Master.