CHICAGO — The Gelato World Tour served 9,000 lbs of 16 varieties of artisan gelato in Chicago’s Millennium Park over Memorial Day weekend. Thousands of people, myself included, visited the event to taste the wide variety of flavors of gelato. More than 78,000 cups and mini-cones were served. The gelatos were created by 16 different teams competing for the title of “World's Best Gelato: Americas East.”

The event was preceded earlier in the week by Carpigiani Gelato University, a gelato-making course hosted by Kendall College Culinary Arts School, Chicago, and taught by Luciano Ferrari, frozen dessert technologist at Carpigiani, Italy. The training course ended with a six-course meal at Piccolo Sogno, Chicago. The restaurant’s chef Tony Priolo, and Mr. Ferrari, partnered to create sweet or savory gelatos that paired with everything from truffle risotto to braised short ribs to chocolate-covered strawberries. (View slide show to get a taste of the pairing menu.)

The events were the perfect lead into a sunshine-filled weekend in Millennium Park where the 16 gelato flavors were sampled over three days. The 16 were selected as finalists out of more than 100 candidates by a panel of culinary experts.

The panel of judges (30%) combined with the public vote (65%) and the opinion of the artisans competing in the event (5%) decided the outcome of the competition. The four winners will move on to compete in Rimini, Italy, with winners from the other stages for the title “World’s Best Gelato Flavor.”

The first place winner: Amor-acuyá was created by Daniela Lince Ledesma of Dolce Gelato, Medellìn, Colombia. The gelato combined three different sensations: South American passion fruit, which has a sour and sweet taste that binds with the cream; a homemade passion fruit variegate to enhance aroma; and a 65% Colombian chocolate that delivers a strong contrast with its bittersweet taste.

Gelato World Tour
Amor-acuyá was created by Daniela Lince Ledesma of Dolce Gelato, Medellìn, Colombia.
Coming in second was Chicago Pothole, created by Angelo Lollino and Ali Caine Hung of Vero Coffee & Gelato, Elmwood Park, Ill. In this fresh take on the classic rocky road flavor, the chefs used a cocoa from Ecuador. It was emulsified then variegated with a nutty chocolate sauce consisting of roasted and caramelized pecans, dark chocolate chunks and marshmallow-inspired meringue. The flavor was a tribute to the pothole-infested rocky roads Chicagoans are too familiar with after a long winter.

The third place winner, Tammy Giuliani of Stella Luna Gelato Café, Ottawa, also gave a nod to Chicago in her creation made with Koval-brand single-barrel organic bourbon. Koval was the first distillery to be built in Chicago since prohibition. Established in 2008 on the north side, the husband and wife founders craft organic whiskey, liqueurs and specialty spirits. Ms. Giuliani’s creation combined the bourbon with rich chocolate gelato loaded with ganache swirl and maple-candied pecans.

The fourth gelato to compete in the Italy competition won the technical jury award. The saffron pistachio with candied lemon peel gelato was created by Gianluigi Dellaccio of Dolci Gelati Café, Washington, D.C. The jury recognized the gelato for its “various flavors and textures that hit the palate at different times and combine to create an incredible experience in your mouth.”

The Gelato World Tour is the first international traveling competition in search of the best flavors in the world. The tour is directed by Carpigiani Gelato University, a world-renowned school for successful gelato entrepreneurs, and Sigep-Rimini Fiera, a gelato tradeshow. The goal of the tour is to “spread the culture of fresh artisan gelato throughout the world.”

“Sixteen artisan teams have delighted Chicago with their wonderful gelato creations,” said Achille Sassoli, director of the Gelato World Tour. “They were all unique, sumptuous and surprised even the most discerning palates. Chicago’s excellence and creativity in the world of pastry, healthy lifestyle and artistic culture delivered on its promise as the perfect city for our tenth world stage.”