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Stacey Vanek-Smith: If you’re thinking about going back to school, consider this: a a Master’s degree in gelato-making. Megan Williams has more from Bologna, Italy.
Megan Williams: Not every college has flavors as core subjects, but then few are called the Gelato University. Run by the Carpegiani gelato-making machine company Bologna, Italy, the so-called university attracts hundreds of international students a year to study the fine art of preparing this frozen delight.
Steve McAllister from Boston keeps a close watch over his first batch of hazelnut gelato as it oozes out of a stainless-steel machine.
Williams: What are you doing here?
Steve McAllister: Well, I’m having a mid-life crisis. I work as a fundraiser and started to think when a burn out, wondering what I would be doing. So thought of something else that I like. Eat ice cream. In this case, make ice cream.
He says he likes the fact that gelato making is a craft. You make it in little batches using fresh products — perfect for a small-scale start-up.
McAllister: It’s a kind of niche market that I don’t think has been explored. So I think there could be real opportunity financial, so move into the market and introduce this product. Kind of a healthier ice cream.
Indeed it is. Gelato has 30 percent less fat than regular ice cream and that appeals to an increasingly health conscious America. So Luciano Ferrari says. He’s the head professor of the English-language gelato course.
Luciano Ferrari: Frozen dessert technologist, that’s my title.
Williams: In Italian how do you say that?
Williams: Sounds better in Italian.
Ferrari says gelato sales world-wide are rising slowly but steadily. Since the recession, though, gelato’s low cost and low fat has made it a popular treat. And an appealing business. Enrollment in the English-language course this year is up by about 50 percent compared to past years.
Ferrari: For all those people who see their job in danger or want to have some kind of back-up plan. At end of day, seen consumption of gelato gone up during the last few years.
It’s good business for Carpegiani gelato machines, as well. About 20 percent of students taking the course end up buying the machines to start their gelaterias. Talk about a sweet, soft sell.
In Bologna, I’m Megan Williams for Marketplace.
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