Interview: founders of Italian gelateria Grom
The founders of Grom, II Gelato come una volta discuss launching the Italian concept in the UAE
Italian gelateria GROM, Il Gelato come una volta opened its second branch in Dubai at the end of last year, within nine months of launching its first in the emirate.
The brand, which operates outlets across six countries, was founded 13 years ago in Turin, Italy, by Federico Grom and Guido Martinetti. Caterer Middle East spoke to them about the importance of using organic produce and why they are not worried about the infux of gelato brands in the region
What’s special about authentic gelato and why is it important that Grom uses only natural ingredients?
Federico Grom (FG): The special quality of authentic Italian gelato, or ‘gelato like it used to be made’, is that is it focuses on using 100% natural and fresh ingredients and fruits. This is why we source the best produce from across the world, as well as our own organic farm Mura Mura.
Additionally, to ensure a pure taste and quality, we never use any artificial colours, aromas, preservatives or emulsifiers. The use of natural ingredients is the core essence of our brand; we are invested in superlative flavour over the aesthetic beauty of our raw materials. We pride ourselves on directly managing agriculture in order to grow the best fruit, and respect Mother Nature by organically growing these crops at Mura Mura, instead of using artificial chemicals for mass production. We have pursued this goal since 2002, by rigorously researching the best products that the agricultural world has to offer.
Tell me about your organic farm?
Guido Martinetti (GM): Mura Mura, is located in Costigliole d’Asti, Italy, and stretches across 20 hectares of land. The farm features the best variants of pears, figs, apricots, peaches, melons and strawberries, all organically grown with absolute respect for nature and its rules. We also have an experimental orchard in our farm, where we study over 80 different plants to make our sorbets and grow different varieties of fruit for our sorbets.
Where else do you source your ingredients from for your two Dubai outlets?
FG: We cannot cultivate all the ingredients on our farm in Piedmont, so we source from across the world. For example, cacao beans from Venezuela, coffee from Guatemala and lemons from Sicily, to name a few. We prepare the liquid mixes at our laboratory in Turin, which then get distributed to our retail stores — respecting the cold chain — where they then get whipped freshly each day. The centralisation of this first phase of production helps us maintain the quality of our production process, allowing us to acquire certain types of fruit available only from respective consortiums, and not from typical city markets and vendors.
What attracted you to the two locations you chose for your expansion into Dubai?
GM: BoxPark is a cool shopping destination in Dubai, with a delightful variety of cuisines on offer for a culturally diverse audience. The outdoor urban lifestyle concept and pop-up feel of the stores is a massive hit, and the fun and engaging vibe of the location made us feel right at home.
Our other outlet is in Mall of the Emirates, which has established itself as a popular Dubai destination over the past 10 years. The combination of its retail stores, entertainment offering and dining options make it an ideal location for a day out with family or friends, therefore opening our second store in the new extension of the mall was a no-brainer. It provided us with the opportunity to leverage increased footfall to the new VOX cinema and other stores that opened recently there.
Do gelato preferences differ for the Middle East market compared with your customers in other countries?
FG: With such a varied audience, there is bound to be a difference in preferences, but classic flavours such as chocolate, strawberry and pistachio are loved across the world.
Have you unveiled any flavours specially for the Middle East market?
GM: We thought, what better to pay homage to the Middle East and the taste of Arabia than to capture the delicious flavour of the date? During Ramadan, we created a Middle East-specific flavour of fiordilatte with dates and almonds. As we do with all our ingredients, we selected the best we could — Pugliese almonds and organic dates from Bateel — and mixed them together with fresh milk to create a flavour that was well received by the market.
How competitive is the gelato market here?
FG: Recently the region has seen an influx of gelato brands from across the world due to a growing demand for the Italian treat. We do not see ourselves as competing with brands in the UAE and the wider Middle East; rather, we are complementing each other to create a varied gelato offering for residents and tourists alike.
We believe that we have been able to grow our brand due to our value proposition of only using the best ingredients to produce our gelato, and we will continue to do so for our outlets in the Middle East, and across the world.