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James Coleridge earned the title of the best gelato artisan in Canada at the Gelato Festival World Masters competition.
You know what they say, when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. Well, when life gives James Coleridge lemons, he makes lemon sorbetto. When the Vancouver-based award-winning Gelato Grand Master arrived in Toronto, ready for the Gelato Festival World Masters competition held back on March 1st, he was faced with terrible news: his ingredients were left behind. He would have to compete against 17 other professional gelato artisans, with a major set back on his hand. But he won, anyway.
The challenges were nothing Gelato Grand Master James couldn’t handle after 14 years of experience in making amazing gelato. He shipped all of his dry goods and key ingredients, which were crucial for the making of his competing gelato flavour. He arrived ready for day one of prepping and day two of making, only to find out that his ingredients did not make it to Toronto in time, instantly setting him back. “You can’t really get upset, because that’s what life has handed you,” he says, “when life hands you lemons, you make lemon sorbetto.”
The ingredients arrived nine hours later, so he bought a pot, a thermometer, and did the best he could in his hotel room. “Life often gives us challenges, but you have to be innovative and adaptive,” he says, “I had to rely on my years of experience and competitions in Italy to figure out how I was going to accelerate a process which doesn’t like being accelerated.” And that he did. He managed to successfully complete what is usually a twenty four hour-long process in four hours.
James’ winning flavour was “Texas Pecan with an Italian Soul,” a delicious and professionally crafted ode to Canada. It was a blend of homemade Texas Pecan nut paste, creamy Italian mascarpone cheese and dark amber Quebec maple syrup, layered with candied pecan pieces, an Italian Amarena cherry sauce, Vancouver Island and Nova Scotia sea salts and infused with a hickory and cherry apple smoke. “I did the best I could, I managed with the problems, I was proud of what I made and I was fortunate that the judges thought it was the best in Canada,” he says.
When it was time to present his work to the judges, he did not mention all that had gone wrong hours before. “I did not play that card, I just stood up there, told them about my flavour, and explained the layers. You can’t become a champion by giving excuses, when you get knocked down, you get back up,” he says, “It’s not the fact that there’s challenges and problems, it’s how we handle these challenges that truly defines us as individuals, as chefs, as gelato masters.”
His winning flavour will be exclusively available for a limited time in Casereccio Foods in Kitsilano this month. Make sure to follow his social media and keep an eye out so you have a chance to try the winning gelato, and keep supporting Canada’s best gelato artisan, who we are all rooting for in the upcoming competition, where he will be representing Canada as one of three Canadian Gelato Masters at the Los Angeles semi-finals on September 2 and 3, 2023.