Meet HOT ITALIAN’s Gelato Master

If you made delicious gelato for a living, you might have a perpetual smile on your face. But it’s hard to imagine it could be a smile as big as Eleonora Cercatore’s. Ele is the chef-owner of Passione Gelato, the cool confection maker that supplies Hot Italian with 15 flavors of fresh, Italian-style ice cream.

The name Cercatore will be familiar to Public Market patrons because Ele’s little brother, Fabrizio, is co-owner and chief pizzaiolo of Hot Italian. Ele and Fabrizio hail from the Cinque Terra region of Italy. When Fabrizio moved to America a decade ago, Ele took over running his restaurant in Italy before joining him in the U.S. two years ago.

A graduate of culinary school and a chef in her own right, Ele describes one key similarity between Italy and northern California: The ability to buy fresh ingredients daily. Ele notes that Passione Gelato, her company, sources from some of the best local, organic dairy farms, such as Clover and Straus Milk.

Master Gelateria
Ele is grateful for many aspects of her new life in America. She’s especially pleased to be able to train with renowned gelato makers. Francesco Baldo, another Italian émigré, is a Bay Area-based food consultant who acts as a gelato-coach in Ele’s production facility.

Ele is particularly honored to have trained under Maestro Gelataio Massimiliano Scotti. Scotti was named the best gelato-maker in all of Europe at the 2017 Gelato Festival in Florence.

Quick Ones
What’s your favorite flavor? Salted caramel. My Dad’s is cookies and caramel.
Favorite thing about the Bay Area? Here, if you have ambition, you can do anything.
Favorite food (besides Hot Italian) at Public Market? It’s hard to say one, but I eat a lot at C CASA and I love Paradita.