Sergio Dondoli

ice cream world champion


"World Champion Ice Cream Maker" in 2006/2007 and 2008/2009 - titles that Sergio Dondoli has won twice as a member of the Italian national ice cream making team. He is also the only one to make an Amedei chocolate ice cream, which was named the best in the world from 2005 to 2009. As one of the top international ice-cream makers, he is also constantly inventing new flavours and combinations, such as pink grapefruit and spumante, raspberry and rosemary, blackberry and lavender, ricotta curd and blueberries or gorgonzola and walnuts, which can also be enjoyed in adequate surroundings: in Signore Dondoli's own ice-cream parlour Gelateria Di Piazza, which can be found in the market square of the medieval mountain village of San Gimignano in Tuscany.

Sergio Dondoli

ice cream world champion


Sergio Dondoli
Sergio Dondoli | © Gelateria di Piazza

Was it envy or jealousy? Sergio Dondoli (*12 September 1953) can no longer say exactly why he became an ice cream man. The fact is: his brother-in-law comes from the "valley of ice-cream makers" called Val di Zoldo on the south-eastern edge of the Dolomites and in 1971 he was the third generation to own an ice-cream parlour in Kiel. Sergio Dondoli, who had actually only come to Germany in that very year to learn the language, became the owner of a small restaurant in Lutjenburg on the Baltic Sea in 1977 after a successful start to his career as a maître d'hôtel. While his wife's brother could go on holiday in the German winter months, he had to work. Signore Dondoli eventually got fed up with that and decided to learn how to make ice cream. Full of commitment, curiosity and determination, he took up the challenge. The fact that he did not let himself be discouraged by numerous setbacks finally paid off: From 1984, he had his own ice cream parlour near Lübeck, but returned home in 1988 to open his Gelateria Di Piazza in San Gimignano in 1992. The likeable, lively Italian, who can call himself "Gelato World Champion" twice, teaches as a lecturer at the "Carpigiani Gelato University" near Bologna. There he gives courses in the high art of ice cream production. For spreading his precious know-how in general the man holds gelato-making-courses all over the world too. Sergio's creations continue to surprise. His great inventions include very innovative and successful combinations of flavours in the world of ice cream making, like the sorbets flavoured with aromatic herbs such as Rosemary Baby® (Raspberry and Rosemary), Venere Nera® (Blackberries and Lavender), Curva Fiesole® (ricotta and bilberries) or Sangue di Bue® (spicy chocolate and sour cherries).

Sergio Dondoli is married, father of three grown-up children and lives in San Gimignano (Italy).

Interview May 2016

Tasteful: the sweet secrets of an Italian culinary magnet

"Under the pressure of a deadline, at least I can work best. To create something, I need complete chaos in my home study. That sounds strange, but that's the way it is. In any case, such an environment is the best creative atmosphere for me. I have never had the experience of having to finish something by a certain deadline but not coming up with anything. However, I have to say the following: I have never had to create something, but have always wanted to create something!

I'm inspired by very different things: sometimes it's tasty memories of my youth, sometimes it's very simple smells that I want to turn into ice cream. There is no hard and fast rule. When I have an idea, it happens in a flash. Because I am a very curious person, I can hardly wait to put what I have in my head into practice. In this respect, I am clearly in favour of speed in the development process. The beauty of it is: As a visionary, so to speak, I quickly achieve success. Whether my idea was good generally becomes apparent during its realisation, which, by the way, should not take place under any kind of pressure. I would like to illustrate this with an example: When I enter a grocery shop very hungry, my aim is to quickly buy what I can use to satisfy my appetite as quickly as possible. But if my stomach is not growling, I calmly choose what I want!

In order to make ice cream and develop special flavours, as in my profession, technical knowledge is an indispensable prerequisite. If a person has this know-how at a young age, it is of course an advantage. In any case, the saying "art comes from skill" applies to our job. Routine is a great advantage. However, experience and professionalism cannot make up for a lack of creativity.

By the way, I like working in a team. It's always a great enrichment when employees contribute their ideas. 

Every creative person naturally wants to do his or her thing as well as possible. Yet there is no such thing as perfection. One does one's best at the very moment of creating, but as soon as the desired goal has been achieved, the whole thing has already become superfluous. Because there is no perfection, the 'ultimate work' is also an impossibility!

Being ahead of one's time is risky because it involves the danger of not being understood. Therefore, one should only do what one feels. Everything else has no meaning. And since an artist is always required to make improvements to his work, at some point you simply have to finish it and release it.

When something has proven successful, the lure of recycling, that is, repeating oneself or being stuck in a pattern of success and therefore not developing any further, is powerful; especially to the extent that one confuses the mere recycling of the tried and tested with the development of one's own style.

Criticism is justified even in the face of success, as it helps the person concerned to keep their feet on the ground. Success, by the way, is something that does not normally happen suddenly; it is usually a long-term process, which is why it is important to persevere! The fact that one person is now successful while another, equally talented person is not, is probably due to the fact that the timing always has to be right. It's not for nothing that they say: at the right time, in the right place. In general, however, nothing works without talent!"

My Favorite Work:

"For me personally, it was a huge success when I invented the first saffron cream ice cream. I called it 'Crema di Santa Fina' and also registered this designation as a brand name. Saffron, together with pilgrimage, was the most important source of economic income for my city a thousand years ago. For me, it is very important to have a direct relationship with my land, to identify with it and to have this reflected in my work. That's why many of my creations contain agricultural products from the region."

Crema Santa Fina
My favorite work: Crema Santa Fina

You like(d) what’s offered here? Please show your appreciation by donating to one of the recommended charities.

Donate now