Photo Credit: Mike Buck Photography
Who doesn’t love something cold, creamy, and delicious to help beat the summer heat, especially in the South? During recent travel to meet with some of our Louisiana Dairy Farmers, I had the opportunity to stop by and tour the LSU AgCenter Food Incubator, a business incubator that assists emerging food entrepreneurs in starting and growing their businesses. One of the entrepreneurs I met on my visit was Mario Lozanov, owner and creator of City Gelato. He greeted me with a tasting of his salted caramel gelato. It was delicious and the perfect treat for a hot day in Louisiana!
Since the start of City Gelato, Mario has utilized the services of the food incubator. He began his career as an organic chemist and after being downsized from a position in 2012, Mario decided to pursue the idea of providing fresh artisanal gelato to the people of Louisiana. He likes to use fresh, local ingredients and no preservatives, artificial flavors or coloring go into City Gelato. With his chemistry background, Mario evaluates taste and flavor combinations with a scientific lens, which has served him well in the culinary world. The business has expanded to several mobile carts and City Gelato is now available at local grocery stores throughout Baton Rouge and New Orleans.
Gelato, or Italian ice cream, is made with milk, cream, and sugar, and is flavored with fruit and nut purees and other flavors. Gelato is also lower in fat and contains less air than ice cream, which contributes to its smooth and creamy texture. The same health benefits of dairy found in milk, including calcium, potassium, and Vitamin D, are also found in gelato.
The food incubator is a fascinating place where emerging food companies can take advantage of valuable resources during the startup period. Businesses are able to use the processing area, which includes food service equipment to safely prepare, bottle, and package foods for wholesale. A microbiology laboratory is available to conduct shelf life studies at different storage temperatures for client products, as well as education on sanitary practices. The training and education conference room, complete with a demonstration kitchen, allows for meetings and tastings in professional environment. Additionally, there are many dairy products produced and marketed by the food incubator with the help of the LSU Dairy Store, a great stop for ice cream, cheese and other locally sourced dairy foods.
So, if you’re in south Louisiana and need a cold, sweet, dairy treat, look up City Gelato, check the local grocery store, or stop by the LSU Dairy Store!
Stephanie H. Yow, MS, RD, CSP, LD