Sustainable Sweetness: Ana Schwarz's Journey From MasterChef To Gelato Innovator
Food & Drink
Food & Drink

Sustainable Sweetness: Ana Schwarz's Journey From MasterChef To Gelato Innovator

'Upcycled gelato' is not necessarily a common phrase, but is one that manufacturer and retailer Island Gelato Company is intent on pursuing.

Its Founder Ana Schwarz explains her journey from a MasterChef contestant to creating the Island Gelato Company, an innovative business crafting sustainable, upcycled desserts. 

The conversation delves into how Schwarz's enterprise transforms excess, perishable fruits from supermarkets and orchards into delectable gelato and sorbets, contributing to an eco-friendly dessert revolution. 

"It's really taking fruit that's either perishable and needs to be thrown out from supermarkets or off the ground of orchards... We'd like to take that as much as we can, depending on what we are creating and use it to create beautiful compotes and sauces and jams that we can actually then incorporate into our gelato and sorbets." 

This innovative approach not only prevents food waste but also has earned Island Gelato numerous accolades, including six gold and two silver medals at the Outstanding Food Producer Awards. 

Schwarz reflects on the inception of Island Gelato, which was sparked a decade ago by the renowned Gelato Messina in Sydney. This inspiration, coupled with a noticeable gap in the New Zealand market, led to the successful establishment of her company in Waiheke, where tourism boosted its initial popularity. 

The company has since expanded, partnering with Farro Supermarkets and adapting to the growing demand for premium at-home dessert experiences. 

Throughout the conversation, Schwarz expresses a deep commitment to sustainability, remarking on the importance of creating a circular economy. 

"It just feels wonderful to be able to have a circular economy, something that comes out of a supermarket, that we actually may have our product and we actually could end up coming back into that product."

Discussing the popularity of flavours, Schwarz says, "I suppose seasonality really plays a part... The six we have in Farro are probably the top six as far as popularity." 

She goes on to describe a particularly innovative flavour involving gin and grapefruit that won gold at the New Zealand Ice Cream Awards. Schwarz also reminisces about her experience on MasterChef, calling it "incredibly tough," yet affirming that she would do it all over again if given the chance. 

Her resilience and passion have been pivotal in Island Gelato's success story. Schwarz's dedication to both culinary excellence and ecological responsibility stands as a testament to the potential for indulgence to be both delicious and conscientious.

Listen to the full chat between Ana Schwarz and Dominic George above.

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