Celebrating the end of summer has never been so sweet, with The Piccolina Gelato Project: 8 Chefs in 8 Weeks coming back for a second season.

The Piccolina Gelato Project sees 8 of Melbourne’s top chefs take over the specials board for a week. Each chef has designed 3 gelato flavours that the Piccolina team help bring to life, and offer across all of its six stores. The flavours showcase the cooking-style and ethos of each chef, all within a scoop of gelato.

The Piccolina Gelato Project 2022 features a line up just as impressive as its inaugural season and will run from Wednesday 16 February until Tuesday April 12.

From February 16, Piccolina’s specials board will play host to 3 flavours designed by the likes of Khanh Nguyen (Sunda & ARU), Peter Gunn (Ides), Zach Furst (Bar Liberty), Thi Lee (Anchovy), Hugh Allen and Sharon Brindley (Vue de Monde x Jala Jala collaboration), Almay Jordan (Neighbourhood Wine & Old Palm Liquor), Jo Barret (Future Food Systems), and Rosheen Kaul (Etta).

Following the success of the 2021 Project, Sandra Foti, owner and founder of Piccolina Gelateria, is excited to see this year’s flavours come to life.

“I’m so excited about this year’s line-up. Last year was just so amazing that I couldn’t wait to do it again.” says Sandra Foti.

“We’ve always tried to elevate the whole experience around gelato. We start with the quality of our ingredients and the dedication in preparing them correctly, through to the design and fit out of our stores; Melbourne’s best chefs being part of the Piccolina family and creating these incredible flavours just makes sense for us.”

The first cab off the rank will be Khanh Nguyen from Sunda, known for marrying native Australian ingredients with the flavours of Southeast Asia. Khanh Nguyen’s menu will feature a Coconut and Pandan Gelato topped with Beetroot and Plum Sorbet, as well as a Condensed Milk Gelato topped with a Vietnamese Coffee Caramel and Wattleseed Honeycomb.

“It’s sort of a little ode to my parents.,” says Khanh Nguyen. “Growing up, I remember seeing my dad make his daily coffee… it always fascinated me. On the rare occasions where he’d let me have a little taste he’d say ‘shhh, don’t tell mum’.”

For the chefs, it’s more than just showcasing their flavours, they’re given the opportunity to be creative in a whole new way.

“When you’re running a restaurant, there’s a fine line between balancing creativity with food and labour costs which can create some limitations. With this project, I’m most excited to work with the chefs at Piccolina to bring my bizarre ideas to life,” says Khanh.

Khanh’s menu will be followed by Peter Gunn and while Ides is known for its degustation menus, at the heart of the menu is a focus on Australian ingredients and culture, and it’s this ethos that has found its way to his signature trio of flavours for The Piccolina Project.

This year’s Project also marks the first time that insects will feature on the Piccolina menu. Vue de Monde’s Hugh Allen has teamed up with Sharon Brindley (Jala Jala) to showcase native Australia foods. Their menu will feature a Cantaloupe and Green Ant Gelato. While it’s sure to get people talking, the subtle sweetness of the melon paired with the tangy ants will be a culinary hit all on its own.

“I was so excited to be able to proudly share my culture through food; allowing everyone to experience some of our traditional flavours, done in a modern way,” says Sharon.

Jo Barrett, whose ethos of sustainable eating carries through to her Piccolina menu, in fact, she’ll be using bi[1]products from some of her favourite beverage producers to create a red wine lees sorbet.

For Jo Barrett, being part of the project was an easy decision.

“I’m excited to see what combos my amazing chef friends come up with each time the project runs. I also love seeing the versatility of gelato and how well flavours get frozen in time. I have really enjoyed working with Sandra. She is so enthusiastic and I can feel the love she has for gelato oozing from her. The quality of gelato and drive to make it perfect I find really exciting.”

Neighbourhood Wine’s Almay Jordan is also drawing on her heritage for her gelato menu.

“For 2 of my flavours, I drew on my South African heritage, using flavour combinations that define the much-loved South African milktart… and apricot brandy pudding with custard,” says Almay.

Anchovy’s Thi Le will be showcasing a Toasted Jasmine Rice Gelato with Banana & Rum Jam & Candied Walnuts with Nutmeg, inspired by a recent dish.

“It was challenging to recreate this dish as gelato because the original dish was a hot and cold contrast – but we’re really happy with the result. It’s always great working with other people and getting to see what they do.” says Thi.

This year’s Project has been photographed by Coco and Maximilian whose unique detail-driven, retro aesthetic is the perfect match for a project which combines gelato with flavours you’d traditionally find in high end restaurants.

“The campaign is inspired by the memories surrounding ice cream when we were children — the difficult decision of choosing your flavour, the anticipation of new, limited edition flavours. It’s Piccolina from an alternative reality, as if it were available on every Australian beach, milk bar or petrol station,” say Coco and Maximilian.

Sandra Foti is just excited to see everything come together.

“This is the second year we’ve run the Piccolina Gelato Project and with 16 menus and 48 flavours all up, I’ve never not been amazed by the enthusiasm, creativity and of course the flavour combinations that they come up with.”

While the ability to sample the works of Melbourne’s best chefs is a definite drawcard for local foodies, the Piccolina Gelato Project’s appeal is more broad. By capturing the spirit of each chef in a scoop of gelato, it allows Melburnians to experience their creativity and the flavours they’re known for in the comfortable medium of gelato.

The Piccolina Project: 8 Chefs in 8 Weeks 2022
Dates: Wednesday 16 February until Tuesday 12 April
Price: $8.50
Hashtag: #PiccolinaGelateria
Available to purchase in-store only at Piccolina Collingwood, Hawthorn, Richmond, St Kilda, Hardware Lane and Degraves Street CBD.

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