7 Things You Didn’t Know About the Gelato World Cup
The biennial competition kicks off this weekend in Italy. Stream it live to see Il Gelato’s Dirk Koppenkastrop lead Team USA in a fight for the podium.
Gelato Team USA captain Dirk Koeppenkastrop at il gelato’s Hale‘iwa shop the day he left for Italy to prepare for the Gelato World Cup.
Photo: Catherine Toth Fox
Fourteen teams from around the world checked into the Sigep International Exhibition of Gelato, Confectionery and Bakery today in preparation for this weekend’s Gelato World Cup, held Jan. 23–25. You can follow along with Gelato Team USA’s progress on Facebook and Instagram, and stream the competition live at coppamondogelateria.it. (Italy is 11 hours ahead of Hawai‘i, but there will also be repeat streaming.)
Here are seven things you probably didn’t know about the competition and Team USA.
1. AU REVOIR, FRANCE
France is not allowed to participate in the competition this year because it took home the grand prize in 2014. It will be eligible again in 2018, when the 2016 winning team will have to sit out.
2. SAVE IT FOR THE JUDGE
Each team is made up of four competitors and one team manager, who also serves as a judge for the competition, evaluating every team but his or her own. Team USA’s manager, John Hui (who co-founded the team in 2005), is a culinary judge by training, and often judges for the American Culinary Federation.
3. FREE RIDE
Most of the travel expenses, including airfare and hotel stays, are covered by the organizers, so “it’s a big honor for each country to be admitted to the competition,” says Team USA’s Dirk Koeppenkastrop of Il Gelato Hawai‘i. It’s his job as captain to secure sponsorships to help with additional costs, such as molds (the gelato-cake mold Team USA commissioned cost $4,000) and shipping ingredients and supplies.
4. MISS PASTRY
In addition to the Gelato World Cup, there will be competitions at Sigep for The Pastry Queen, the Star of Chocolate, the Italian Senior Pastry Championship, Bread in the City, a presentation of the finalists from the coffee talent show Barista & Farmer and other events. The exhibition runs from Jan. 23 to 27.
5. EXOTIC FLAVORS
Team USA chose “aloha spirit” as its theme in the 2014 competition and featured flavors including liliko‘i cheesecake, mango, strawberry habanero, apple banana, white-chocolate pineapple, chocolate ginger and Hawaiian gianduia. The 2016 flavors and recipes, conforming to the theme “fire and ice,” have been submitted but are under wraps until the competition. However, Koeppenkastrop has been practicing for the mystery round by experimenting with new flavors, available at Il Gelato now, including licorice and Hawaiian nougat.
6. WINNING DAYS
Though the team has never made it to the podium for the grand prize, USA won Best Gelato Cake in 2006 and Best Gelato Tub in 2008. In 2012, it won the Best Taste Award and People’s Choice Award. Koeppenkastrop hopes to break into the top five overall this year.
7. FRESH PREP
Gelato Team USA met up in California, Oregon and Washington to prepare. “Last time, we did two trainings in California and that was it,” Koeppenkastrop says. “This time we have five trainings. The first two trainings were just to kind of presume what we wanted to do, the third and fourth were into production and the timing, and the fifth training [was to] basically get everything timed out.” Everything needs to be presented to the judges by a specific time, and every minute late is a point deduction. “That’s how we got hit last time, we were delivering the goods too late.”