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When James was interested in learning he searched the Internet and discovered gelato schools and instructional programs in the USA and Italy. He quickly figured out if you want to learn how to make gelato  you go to Italy - the centre of the gelato universe.



The very first step James took was an on-line course to see if he wanted to go further and learn a bit more. Well that was all it took so once he finished the course he then decided to visit pretty much every gelato shop that was open in Vancouver at the time in 2009. He would visit them taste the gelato, make notes, taste some more, visit some more. After about the 12th gelato shop James started to see his differences, what he liked, what he didn't and how he could add his personality to the gelato.

The 1st gelato

He then went to see Remo Breciani, one of Vancouver's great gelato and coffee fathers to many many shops locally and in Italy at his shop -  ECM​ on Boundary Road. It was here that Remo, who represents Bravo gelato machines, and Andy Kieselbach then a rep for PreGel Canada and now a partner with Umaluma (Vancouver's 1st Organic gelato shop) that his first gelato was made. For 3 hours Remo and Andy demonstrated their gelato, the machines and their system to make gelato. It was here that James' training and learning began, it was here that James started to see his future path in gelato.



So James first step was to attend the gelato program at the Italian Culinary Institute for Advanced Culinary & Pastry Art in Calabria, southern Italy . Owner and Master Chef John and Head Teacher and Chef Melina (Now with her own school) quickly saw James' potential and asked him to stay longer to learn about the culinary side and think about Italian Cuisine but in the direction of gelato. James stayed and along side fellow classmates Jill and Carmen they stayed up late, got up early and between them the fireworks started!

Palmiro Bruschi

When James wanted to be inspired he decided to meet with Maestro Bruschi. Winner of the Italian Gelato Championships and a member of the Italian Gelato Academy,  Maestro Bruschi was already famed for his gelato and is innovative flavours. So James rented a car and drove to Tuscany to  find him and talk gelato. It was here that Maestro Bruschi said something that James took to heart, he said. 'James you need to make gelato with your heart first, not your mind. Your mind will follow your heart."

James found a home with the wisdom of the Maestro and stayed to help him. And it was one evening at an event, Palmiro let James help him make gelato and serve to the customers already in love with his magical gelato. This was a night that James realized the beauty gelato could be and he learned from an Italian Champion who since that meeting has become close friends with James through the years.



The worlds largest gelato show, SIGEP with over 3,000 companies in the gelato, ice cream and pastry business all in a 5 day trade show. By far the single greatest event held each year for people interested, learning, growing and wanting to stay on top of what is happening in the world of gelato. James attended his first SIGEP in January 2010, a mere 6 months before opening Bella Gelateria. It was a mind spinning event which challenged James from the moment he walked in on day one. Thankfully, Remo from ECM in Vancouver was attending the show and helped James again by giving him some clues how to manage time in the 8 convention halls. This is also where James tried espresso for the very first time with Remo guiding him - well 5 espresso's later James was ready to visit the 100's of booths and vendors he wanted to learn more about.

On day 2 at SIGEP, James saw a gelato competition Coppa Del Mondo della Gelateria where countries around the world competed to try  their skills to be the best in the world.  This 4 day event of some of the best gelato and pastry makers in the world get together, compete and give the world a chance to see, explore and show the future of gelato. He witnessed art, he saw passion, he saw team work, he saw the life of gelato world wide. But what he did notice that there was NO team from Canada which he thought, Canada should be here.

So he met with one of the organizers Sergio Dondoli (founder of Gelateria Dondoli) and excitedly offered to have a team from Canada compete in two years. Well if you ever met Maestro Dondoli, not only is he an Italian Gelato Champion, smart and witty in 7 different languages, he is a fun loving character who shines a room. It was Maestro Dondoli that encouraged James, which eventually lead  to James putting together Team Canada and competing at the highest level in 2012 and 2014. 

Gelato University

With the seeds of his future planted, James decided next to attend Carpigiani's Gelato University in Bologna, Italy. World  renowned with over 6,000 students going through each year taking more than 500 different courses in 12 different countries. This was the place where James found home for his passion, his desire, his hunger and his quest to learn more. It was here that James found his calling coming together after all the other steps he had taken so far.

James wanted to learn, learn and learn so while attending Gelato University in Italy he took the following gelato programs:

  • Basic

  • Intermediate

  • Advanced

  • Internship

  • Masters

  • Chocolate

  • Alcohol infusions

The information flowed but James gives a lot of credit to his Instructors

who taught, pushed and challenge him to think beyond the text books.


Some of his Gelato University teachers : 

  • Makoto Irie

  • Alice Vignoli

  • Gianpaolo Valli

  • Palmiro Brushi

  • Luciano Ferrari

  • Roberto Lobrano
  • Luigi Perrucci

P.S. James was known by his constant questions to the teachers both in class and after class (like constantly), so much so they had to mention it during the University Video featuring James - which you can watch here.

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2009 Time Magazine on-line article showing James in the Gelato University Gelateria          

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