Yes, Donato Toce has gelato for breakfast. And he actually gets paid for it – it’s part of his job. He is the “cow milker, sugar hauler, head chef and gelatiere” at Gelato Messina, the much-loved Sydney institution that sells desserts such as Elvis The Fat Years, Robert Brownie Jr, Biggie S’Mores, This Is How We Scroll and the Game of Cones range inspired by the seven kingdoms of Westeros. (There are also great non-pun-related flavours, too, like tiramisu, apple pie and pistachio – the latter made using nuts hand-picked by grandmothers at the foothills of Mount Etna).
Donato used to be the head chef at A Tavola, opposite the original Darlinghurst store, but he was compelled to join Gelato Messina eventually. Pavlova, once of his first gelato flavours, was a massive hit and typical of Messina’s ultra-creative experiments (which have included the time they made roast chicken sorbet, for instance, or the admittedly disastrous tomato flavour).
Of course, when you’re dealing with gelato, there’s always a fear there will be a melting disaster (and Donato definitely has lived through some intense experiences). And there are the “spreadsheets of freezability” that Donato has to maintain.
He chats about all this – plus the Messina queues, how the biggest compliment he ever received was via a complaint, the knockout seven-course dessert degustations at Messina Creative Department (co-run by Remi Talbot, who worked at Tokyo’s Michelin-starred Den), where he likes to eat and drink in Sydney, his next-level drinking experiences in Japan – and more.
You can listen to this episode on iTunes or download it via RSS or directly. You can even find it on Stitcher nowadays. And thanks to everyone who has said generously said nice things about this podcast (like Tori Haschka or Anton Forte, 🙏🙏🙏) or even dropped a kind review in the iTunes Store (aka Apple Podcasts) – I finished editing this at 5am, so all that encouragement truly means a lot (and helps me stay semi-awake)!