Yesterday, a Singaporean themed gelato flavour – Good ‘Ol Days – was crowned as the champion in the Asia-Pacific leg of the Gelato World Tour 2.0, at the Marina Bay Sands Convention Centre. This creation beat 15 other gelatos in the top 16, which had included other Singaporean flavours like Chendol Merdeka and Singapore Sling.
Created and prepared by Sharon Tay, 35, of Momolato, a gelato bar at the Singapore Management University, this intriguing gelato flavour literally takes you back to the good old days of Singapore’s past. That’s because it makes use of classic Singaporean-inspired ingredients such as Gula Melaka (Coconut milk palm sugar) with sweet and salty ribbons of homemade palm sugar caramel. Sea salt and crispy flakes of savoury sweet caramelised tofu were also added into the winning gelato.
Created to commemorate Singapore’s 50th birthday
According to Tay, this interesting symphony of Singaporean flavours had been created to commemorate Singapore’s 50th birthday and at the same time, capture Singapore’s constant transformation dynamism and colourful patchwork of myriad cultures born out of its unique geography.
Win took Tay by complete surprise
The win definitely took Tay by complete surprise. She said, “I was totally shocked and taken aback by my win! When they announced the third and second placed winners, I found myself thinking, there are so many strong contenders but there is now just one spot left. I really didn’t know what to think!”
Used to be an investment banker
Her win is even more interesting – because Tay actually used to be an investment banker – and was actually in that line of work for eight years – before she decided to switch jobs and carve out a career in the world of artisan gelato.
Said Tay, “It all started during one of my trips to Florence, in Italy, when I completely fell in love with gelato and pastries. I wanted to combine these two edible art forms together. So I went to Carpigiani University and studied the art of making gelato. They really teach you a very solid foundation in the art of gelato making, when you’re there.” Subsequently, when Tay returned to Singapore after her gelato studies, she set up Momolato and started experimenting with flavours with a local twist – and the rest is now history.
Tay thinks the crispy tofu (Tau Kee) had clinched the win for her
What does Tay think had possibly clinched the win for her? She said, “I think that the most unique part of our gelato flavour is actually the crispy tofu. Adding the tofu (Tau Kee) is similar to bacon and it achieves a very smoky note that balances very well together with the sweet-savoury note from the tofu. So I thought by adding the caramelised crispy tofu, it has helped to give our entire gelato an added dimension.”
Judges were impressed with Tay’s gelato
The judges were definitely impressed by Tay’s gelato flavour and they thought that it had been the right decision to award the top prize to her. Said the President of the Technical Jury, Justin Quek, who works as the Principal Chef of Sky on 57 at Marina Bay Sands, “Good gelato is all about the silkiness and texture when you put it into your mouth. I think Sharon’s gelato matched not only that, but she also managed to hit the the flavour and sweetness very well. These are some of the other points to consider when determining a good gelato.”
“As well, the addition of the salt also played an important part into balancing out the flavours in Sharon’s gelato well. The Gula Melaka also tasted sweet. It reminded me of our Chendol or Kaya. I also really loved the crunchiness from the Tau Kee and her theme was also good as she had a firm direction, through the usage of old traditional flavours to Singapore,” Quek added.
In fact, Quek felt that the only possible drawback with Tay’s gelato were the slices of Tau Kee being a bit thick. He explained, “Sharon balanced the gelato very well. If I really had to say something about it, I would say the Tau Kee was a bit thick and could have been cut smaller. It is all about the feeling on the palette.”
For the votes that had determined the winner, about two thirds came from members of the public, about one third from the judging panel and the remainder from the other contestants.
Eager about representing Singapore on the world stage
Though the win still has yet to sink in for her, Tay is definitely bursting with eagerness about representing Singapore on the world stage – for the first time. She said, “I am definitely excited about this opportunity and happy that I am able to bring Singapore’s key traditional ingredients to the world stage. So this is something I am looking forward to doing.”
But Tay remains modest about her chances of whether she can repeat her success in the Gelato World Tour finals in Rimini, Italy, in 2017 – and have her flavour be crowned as the best gelato in the world. She said, “Well, I can only wish for the best in Italy and keep my fingers crossed.”
Tips from Tay on preparing good gelato
What tips does Tay have, on preparing good gelato? She said, “I think you need to start using very natural ingredients and the freshest milk that you can find. That is the way to achieve the best flavour possible, and I think it takes a lot of effort, patience and practice to not only achieve that, but to craft something that people enjoy, and that you are happy with as well. I think there is plenty of hard work and determination as well as getting a good grounding in the basics of gelato making.”
Other winners of the Gelato World Tour
The three winners from the Gelato World Tour 2.0 (Asia-Pacific Leg) were as follows.
1st place – Good ‘Ol Days, by Sharon Tay of Momolato, Singapore
2nd place – Roasted Walnut and Honey Crunch, by David Lamprell, Michael & Brian O’Donnell of 48 Flavours, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
3rd place – Vanilla of the East, by Keewin & Seow Han Ong of Cielo Dolci, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Special Mentions went to the following gelato flavours and their creators.
The People’s Choice Special Mention went to Mango Ube Symphony, by Zarah Zaragoza-Manikan of Bono Artisanal Gelato, Makati City, Manila, Philippines
The Maestri Gelatieri Special Mention went to Caramel and Almond Crunch, by Vanjimuthu Palaniswamy & Kavithamani Vanjimuthu of Boomerang, Coimbatore, India
The Judge’s Special Mention was a tie and this was awarded to two flavours – Lemon Zest with Fig Marmalade & Dark Chocolate, by Antonino Lo Iacono of Gelatony, Sydney, NSW, Australia AND From the Cradle to the Grave, by Steve & Chrissie Powell of Vostrogusto Gelato, Wellington, New Zealand
For comments on my taste testing of the 16 flavours created by the 16 finalists, click here.
To read about the Gelato With A Heart dinner, click here.