With a Ph.D. in business psychology, Carmelo Turillo was teaching in Madrid when he and wife Katrina Turillo devised a plan to open La Divina Gelateria (3005 Magazine St., 504-342-2634; 621 St. Peter St., 504-302-2692; Loyola University, Carrollton Hall, 504-258-2115; www.ladivinagelateria.com) based on the gelato shops they'd grown to love in Europe. They opened their original Magazine Street location in 2007 and later expanded, with two more local shops and another one planned for Baton Rouge this fall. Turillo also teaches business courses at Tulane University, his alma mater.
: What's the fundamental difference between ice cream and gelato?
Turillo: The main difference is that gelato tastes better, and there are technical and chemical reasons for that. In Italian it's the same word, but in the U.S. it's an FDA thing that you can't call gelato ice cream because it doesn't have enough fat. But it still tastes creamier. There's less sugar, so it freezes at warmer temperatures, and that's part of the reason why it's softer. And there's less air in it, so it's denser. Together, that all gives it a more intense flavor. You don't have as much fat coating your taste buds, and you're not freezing your taste buds, and it's denser so you have more of a pop.
: You're known for aggressive local sourcing. How do you manage that?
T: It's not that we refuse to use anything that's not local. If it can be slow-boated to us, we'll use the best we can find, so: chocolate, hazelnuts and pistachios. But if it has to be picked fresh, we use what's local. For me, Italian cooking isn't so much a list of ingredients but a philosophy. You go to the market, buy what's fresh and make something delicious with it. That philosophy doesn't change. We have great ingredients here, but they're not always the same as in Italy.
: What should we look for in your gelato case as hot weather arrives?
T: People are always excited about our blueberry-basil gelato, and peach will be coming up again. We'll still have strawberries for a little longer. Around Tales of the Cocktail (July 17-21) we'll be making cocktail-themed gelato, and those are always fun. — IAN MCNULTY