The Sweet Taste of Success: Absolute Gets The Scoop on Boho Gelato
Just shy of eight years ago, after indulging in Italy’s infamous gelato, Brighton foodie Seb Cole decided to set up Boho Gelato – a micro factory and shop for an ever-changing choice of handmade ice cream and sorbets in a wide variety of creative flavours.
Since opening the doors to the Pool Valley shop, there’s now another Boho Gelato store in Ship Street, plus two others in the seaside towns of Worthing and Weymouth. They also supply roughly 50 restaurants, cafes and food businesses in Sussex and beyond.
Absolute’s Shelley Welti met founder Seb to find out more about Boho Gelato’s sweet success…
It’s been seven and a half years since I opened the original shop in Pool Valley. In the years before that, I spent a lot of time in Italy and unintentionally I ate a lot of gelato!
I’m a foodie and flavours obsessive and every time I came home to Brighton, I thought that the city could really do with a proper gelato shop offering a wide range of flavours like I had experienced there.
I grew up in a family of great cooks and had worked in a few kitchens so I knew I had the basic skills needed to learn how to produce gelato. I went back to Italy to train, then bought my machines and opened up shop.
What makes your gelato different to others?
We make our gelato using a pure recipe and artisan method using locally produced milk and cream. Our style of gelato has a very low air content plus lower fat and lower sugar than some other ice creams which means it is very dense and luxurious, but also fresh tasting and not tooth-achingly sweet.
We specialise in flavours and have produced well over 500. The selection in the shops change daily depending on what ingredients looked good at the market, customer requests or whatever we feel like making that day. We are also very well known for our vegan flavours which we make in over 100 ever-changing options.
What do you enjoy most about working with gelato?
The fact that you really can do anything you want with the flavours, there’s no limit on the creativity. We enjoy coming up with and testing new recipes! It’s great when you create a new combination to see how it goes down with the public. Also chatting to customers about their ideas is great fun.
How would you describe the Boho Gelato experience?
Top quality innovative ice cream like you would find in a good restaurant, served in a creative, fun and affordable way. Or just “mmm that’s good!” If you are a vegan or a dairy free customer it’s sometimes more like: “I can’t believe that’s really vegan!”
Can you give us any insider secrets into how you create your gelato?
The process is actually really simple, the skill is the knowledge of the ingredients and the trial and error of the balance of the recipes.
You need a good palate to be able to taste recipes as they are being made to make sure everything is singing.
We use a pasteuriser to cook our milk, cream and sugar. Once that is ready we add flavours to the mix, batch by batch, which could include anything from simply blending in fruit to making hot or cold infusions of herbs and spices or cocoa, or making praline, caramel, jams or cakes.
The blended mix goes into a batch freezer before it emerges ten minutes later as creamy, soft gelato. If a flavour has ripples or pieces, we add them by hand at the point the gelato leaves the freezer. You need to know a lot of different techniques for your preparations but the main process is mainly theory-based, like cocktail mixing.
With autumn just around the corner; will you be adding any new faves to the menu?
We always have new flavours coming through and actually thanks to the slightly colder end to the summer we have had this year, we have already had some great new autumny flavours – White Choc with Spiced Pear, Banana Custard with Cinnamon Waffles and Real Patisserie Chewy Brown Toast and Jam to name a few.
What are your most requested flavours?
Sea Salt Caramel is still probably the overall favourite and has been since the beginning. However, Carrot Cake has recently had a huge wave in popularity and our top selling vegan flavour is the Peanut Butter Salt Caramel.
Other than launching delicious new flavours, what exciting plans do you have for autumn?
Having opened three shops in the last three years, we thought a quieter year might be a good idea to give us more time to get back to what we love. We are doing lots of teaming up – we are planning the next ‘Flavours of Brighton’ [a regular much-loved event, which sees Boho Gelato using signature ingredients and/or ideas from local food or drink businesses to create collaborative flavours] which we hope might be launching around Christmas. We also have other collaborations in the pipeline, both in terms of flavours and events.
And finally, how do you feel to be one of Brighton’s go-to foodie destinations?
I’m very proud that Boho is regarded as a go-to Brighton destination. When I first opened, I had hoped that we might just last the first couple of years and who knows beyond that, but we have been lucky that from the very beginning, people in Brighton really understood and appreciated what we were doing. Word of mouth and recommendation goes a long way, so we gained our reputation in the city very quickly. Thanks so much to all those to supported us at the start!
Boho Gelato is a place run by people who love ice cream, for people who love ice cream, dairy or non-dairy. If that’s you, then come on down!
Visit Boho Gelato at 6 Pool Valley and 31 Ship Street, Brighton.