Gelato maker Chris Parent

Maker Expo with Chris Parent 225

In an unassuming commercial building up on Colby Drive in Waterloo, Chris Parent is making the best damned gelato and sorbet that I’ve ever tasted. I (DW) found this out first-hand last week after a chance conversation at my bi-weekly breakfast club. Chris rolled in late to our gathering at the Checkerboard Restaurant, and upon seeing my Maker Expo sticker exclaimed “What is this Maker Expo? I’m seeing this everywhere now. I make gelato. Can I join in?” Said I, “You absolutely can apply, and if you’re serious I’ll come and shoot you right now for the blog.” Deal.

Before I take you into that story: there is one day left to apply as an exhibiting maker for Maker Expo. I strongly encourage you to get your application in today, even if it isn’t fully complete. Think of the application as the start of a conversation with us. Don’t overthink it. You will find us to be incredibly supportive and open to any idea you have. We also have a bunch of ideas of our own that we need to hand off to others to run. Agnes mentioned a Cardboard Construction Zone and also a Great Roundup of Yarn-based Creators. First step is to connect with us.

Let’s get back to Chris of Christopher’s Gelato. I asked him if there was one takeaway from this post for the people, what would it be: “Know what you’re eating.” Chris said it’s important to read the labels and buy quality food. I come from a frozen-treat background of whatever is on sale at the grocery store, so I was blown away when I sampled Chris’ gelato fresh from the mixer. He noted “The fresher the better, and it doesn’t get any fresher than this.” Flavour explosion. So good.

Maker Expo with Chris Parent 325

Coincidentally, Arden and I had some of Chris’ gelato at Matter of Taste earlier in the week after our shoot with blacksmith Sandra Dunn. I know you can also find this top quality product at Vincenzo’s and several other places around Waterloo Region. Small world, indeed. Read on for a completely unreasonable number of photos.

Maker Expo with Chris Parent 021

It may be that you’ve already sampled Chris’ product. He owned Whole Lot-A Gelata in Uptown Waterloo for 9 years after running some health food stores. He scaled back from retail and throttled up production as a maker and wholesaler. Above, the gigantic delivery coolers are unloaded from the gelato wagon.

As a one-man-show myself with makebright, I can appreciate the hustle required in the roles as maker, marketer, sales, delivery, and accounts receivable that Chris shoulders.

Maker Expo with Chris Parent 025

There is a serious sign-in/out protocol in the facility. It’s all about food safety, regulated and regularly inspected monthly by the provincial OMAFRA department. I donned booties and hairnet, filled out a screening survey, and logged my entry time. First food production shoot for me, I think.

Maker Expo with Chris Parent 027

I love hand-written signs.

Maker Expo with Chris Parent 029

Inside the unit in this building is a whole other self-contained room.

Maker Expo with Chris Parent 031

Behold the land of stainless steel, super-clean-everything, and cold sweet awesomeness.

Maker Expo with Chris Parent 033

Chris’ happy place, in this room. “Nobody bothers me in here. No problems. I just make product.” This windowless room is fully air-conditioned, super HEPA filtered for air quality, positive-air-pressure like an air lock. The concrete floor is specially treated to resist all liquids and is curved up along the walls so there are no contaminant-accumulating corners. With the built-in walk-in freezers and refrigerators, we’re looking at a $100K room. Add on another $150K of manufacturing/cleaning/logging equipment and you’ve got a state of the art food production facility.

First up today is a strawberry basil sorbet.

Maker Expo with Chris Parent 037

Now if you’re under-informed like me, it might be news that sorbet is simply fruit and flavour chilled and turned to a delicious consistency. Me: “Basil? Like the herb?” Chris: “Trust me.”

Maker Expo with Chris Parent 043

To begin…

Maker Expo with Chris Parent 049

need to clean…

Maker Expo with Chris Parent 051

the machine. Those paddles turn around a horizontal axis while heat gets sucked out of the liquid fruit mixture and dumped out of the cooling fins on the back of the rig.

Maker Expo with Chris Parent 074

Out of the fridge comes the marinating mash of strawberry and basil, which…

Maker Expo with Chris Parent 088

goes…

Maker Expo with Chris Parent 081

straight into the hopper of the chiller-mixer.

Maker Expo with Chris Parent 092

There are non-stop cycles of cleaning going on here, as you might imagine.

Maker Expo with Chris Parent 097

So many flavours.

Maker Expo with Chris Parent 102

Chris giving me the rundown on what all this gear does.

Maker Expo with Chris Parent 104

Did you know that gelato is simply milk, cream, sugar, and flavour elements? This rig features some serious temperature probes as that is critical to both food quality and safety.

Maker Expo with Chris Parent 108

Here’s the sort of stuff that goes into the product. Looks very familiar from my fresh-fruit-eating household.

Maker Expo with Chris Parent 117

I find the scale-up of commercial food making interesting: bigger spatulas, spoons, whisks, and inputs.

Maker Expo with Chris Parent 122Maker Expo with Chris Parent 127

These temperature log graphs are required by law.

Maker Expo with Chris Parent 133

Logging happens on this very expensive thermometer…

Maker Expo with Chris Parent 130

and the output graphs are annotated with product batch numbers. All auditable.

Maker Expo with Chris Parent 138Maker Expo with Chris Parent 136

Paperwork.

Maker Expo with Chris Parent 140Maker Expo with Chris Parent 143

Just a few more minutes for that sorbet in the chiller-mixer, so it was time…

Maker Expo with Chris Parent 151

to start prepping…

Maker Expo with Chris Parent 145

the raspberry-lime product coming up next.

Maker Expo with Chris Parent 152Maker Expo with Chris Parent 181

Strawberry-basil sorbet…

Maker Expo with Chris Parent 187

straight into a 4L container.

Maker Expo with Chris Parent 191Maker Expo with Chris Parent 196

Well, probably 4.5L by the time you fill it straight up. After the lid went on, I got to sample a bit of sorbet. Wow. I am now swayed completely to quality over quantity.

Maker Expo with Chris Parent 200

More fruit mix in for the…

Maker Expo with Chris Parent 205

next batch.

Maker Expo with Chris Parent 215

More cleaning. Always cleaning.

Maker Expo with Chris Parent 220

Peeked into the freezer where more product is ready to go. These are the big trays of gelato that retailers put straight into their display case, all decked out to attract hungry customers.

Maker Expo with Chris Parent 221

Catching up on urgent email.

Maker Expo with Chris Parent 223Maker Expo with Chris Parent 226

Aaand more cleaning.

Maker Expo with Chris Parent 233

I know from our breakfast meetups that Chris is a natural speed-talker.

Maker Expo with Chris Parent 231

So all I had to do on this gig was listen.

Maker Expo with Chris Parent 239

Specially-treated floor dries in minutes.

Maker Expo with Chris Parent 242

Bird’s eye view.

Maker Expo with Chris Parent 250

Branding. And, yes, I got a sticker for myself.

Maker Expo with Chris Parent 264

Not only does the gear get cleaned…

Maker Expo with Chris Parent 268

the entire room is cleansed monthly…

Maker Expo with Chris Parent 272

with this acid solution. Walls and all.

Maker Expo with Chris Parent 281Maker Expo with Chris Parent 291

Temperature probe check.

Maker Expo with Chris Parent 311

Spectacular colours awaiting delivery.

Maker Expo with Chris Parent 340

Raspberry-lime sorbet (did I get that right, Chris?)

Maker Expo with Chris Parent 343

All styled up for presentation.

Maker Expo with Chris Parent 350

Food-safe plastic paddles and…

Maker Expo with Chris Parent 353

blades. Just enough for a spoon-sized sample for a curious photographer.

Maker Expo with Chris Parent 358

Chris said “Ok, for Maker Expo I know exactly what I’ll make…”

Maker Expo with Chris Parent 363

“I’ll take this hot-plate…”

Maker Expo with Chris Parent 367

“heat up some sorbitol…”

Maker Expo with Chris Parent 373

“and maple syrup and make molded maple syrup suckers to give away.” Wicked!

Maker Expo with Chris Parent 377

Ok, it’s delivery time!

Maker Expo with Chris Parent 380

Check the list and then out of the inner sanctum we go.

Maker Expo with Chris Parent 383Maker Expo with Chris Parent 389

It’s like the International Space Station out here.

Maker Expo with Chris Parent 390

After a quick laptop check, Chris was loading up product for delivery…

Maker Expo with Chris Parent 394

and I was heading out for my next shoot.

Maker Expo with Chris Parent 397

Thanks for letting me into your world, Chris. Respect! And thanks for applying to exhibit at Maker Expo. Only one more day to apply y’all, so get those applications in.

We are all makers.

DW

Share: Pinterest

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • Name *
  • Website