Life Pops: The role of Gelato in our lives

Hi. I'm Jen, the owner and gelato maker in chief of Bucket & Bay Craft Gelato Co.  Super-excited and terrified in the same breath, I am marching forward in a great gelato adventure.

I wasn't always a gelato maker. In my former life, I managed a team of 15 finance professionals. It was intellectually stimulating and I was pretty good at it. However, in early 2012, after nearly 17 years with the same company, I was swept up in yet another wave of the financial crisis. My position was eliminated. I cried. A lot.

The first few weeks were really difficult.  Soul searching ensued. I realized that while I had enjoyed my job very much, I'd never loved it.  I had stumbled upon that corporate ladder by accident, temping while looking to do something more creative.  And this was my unique opportunity to figure out what I really wanted to do when I grew up. 

I've always been a closet foodie. My earliest kitchen experiments (age 7) revolved around creating a better version of a peanut butter cup by melting down chocolate chips to create a vehicle for my peanut butter.   Wielding knives, I later graduated to knife skills and myriad other classes.  I devoured the Wednesday food section of the NY Times - even back when I lived in Chicago in the days of William Grimes and early Frank Bruni. 

I wanted to eat the best food from all over in the world.  I wanted to cook and create and share.  Can I do it with whole grain and less processed?  Can I make a vegan version?  Then at the suggestion of my wonderful husband, I made gelato.  Making gelato at home for my daughters reminded me of my grandfather Poppy's homemade ice cream.  And the rest is history (read "culinary management program, gelato workshops, and ice cream technology classes" here).

It also turns out gelato is an ideal canvas for unlimited creativity in exploring flavors.  Unfortunately, gelato has been corrupted over time to the point of "just add water" or "open the bag" mixes.  If you churn it onsite, you can call it "homemade" - right?    But at its best, gelato is made from scratch, in small batches, and with the freshest ingredients that can shine through its delicate texture. That is why I love gelato.

- Jen

P.S. One more tidbit from my journey:  Help is there is there if you ask for it . . .

I have received incredible support from my teachers and friends at the Institute of Culinary Education in Manhattan.  Even more amazing is the mentorship I have experienced from different ice cream & gelato makers around the US and other countries.  And to top it off,  the support and advice I have received from local restauranteurs, small business owners, and city officials in Jersey City has been phenomenal.

THANK YOU ALL for the guidance and encouragement!

Strawberry Yogurt Gelato pops for Josie's 4th birthday

Strawberry Yogurt Gelato pops for Josie's 4th birthday