If you are a city dweller, you must have noticed a sudden surge of bicycles in your vicinity, from the Singapore-based oBikes which has somewhat become a part and parcel of Kuala Lumpur city to, yes, even old school tricycles.
If you look at the right places in the city, you may just spot tricycles with pale yellow freezer boxes attached to it, complete with woven rectangular baskets.
These vintage 1930’s Victorian Era inspired tricycles belong to none other than the traditional artisan gelato joint, Jersey Jack Gelato
For those who have not have heard of the term ‘gelato’, it simply refers to ice cream made the Italian way; healthier and contains less fat than your regular ice cream.
recently spoke to the founder of Jersey Jack Gelato, Anthony David Gowler, who set up his gelato joint in Malaysia, three years ago.
Screaming for ice cream
Tucked away in a rather unexpected spot in the city -- in the midst of old flats in Jalan Berangan, to be exact -- one might just miss Jersey Jack Gelato if they do not look closely.
However, despite the unexpected spot, the flagship store where a wide variety of gelato are handmade to perfection sees a flurry of local and international customers every single day.
The success of the store mainly stems from Gowler’s hard work and curiosity to do something out of his interest and line of work.
You see, the former mining engineer left the United Kingdom and came to Malaysia 20 years ago where he worked at an engineering consultancy. He then felt the need to venture into a different field.
“I took a year off work just to decide what I should do. A good friend of mine named Paul Foster suggested that I use the Jersey cow milk for an ice cream business. The milk was produced by the Jersey cows that he brought from Australia for the Kuala Selangor's Bright Cow dairy farm.
“It’s the only herd that produces rich and creamy milk. At that time, it fitted with what I wanted to do. So, I decided to go for it,” he said.
Gowler then spoke to his mother about his desire and with her blessings, he went back to the United Kingdom to learn the art of ice cream making.
“UK has a lot of farms and farm shops are something that is very common there. So, I spent time in farms learning how to make ice cream and see if it fits my lifestyle.
Gowler also told us that his grandparents are farmers, and that was where he learnt everything from scratching, including how to milk the cows.
“I even did a training course in ice cream making at the Alliance of UK,” he explained.
After completing his learning, he went to Singapore to attend a conference with sheer determination and confidence to run an ice cream business in the near future.
However, things took a completely different turn when he met an Italian gelato expert at the conference.
“Manuel Minelli suggested to me that instead of traditional ice cream, why don’t I try my hand at gelato making? I was instantly hooked to the idea.
“He taught me that gelato has less air incorporated into it than ice cream. I learnt that gelato is denser and lighter than ice cream. The ideal scooping temperature of gelato is 14 degrees while for ice cream, it is 18 degrees and that is why when you eat gelato, you get more flavour than freeze."
He also learned that using different sugar to make the gelato will result in different sweetness and scoopability.
“Manuel trained me on calculating the components that will go into a flavour and taught me all the basic recipes of making gelato. It is pretty easy once you get the calculations right. Once you know the calculations, you can create any flavour,” he said.
Armed with the knowledge that he learned in the United Kingdom and Singapore, Gowler came back to Malaysia, set on opening a gelato joint of his own.
The name Jersey Jack Gelato was born because the milk to make his dairy-based gelato comes from Jersey cows and Jack is the name of Gowler’s 4-year-old son.
Gowler said although he knew how to make regular flavours like the classic vanilla, tiramisu and chocolate, he wanted to create gelato flavours that would strike a chord with the locals and their tastebuds.
“So I worked on creating local flavours such as mango, coconut, durian and gula melaka
. We also have combined and fusion flavours like lychee, mangosteen and pomegranate, coconut green tea and chilli, ginger and lemongrass.
He told us that he gets his inspiration to create new flavours all the time from the people he meets and places that he visits.
“Once, I ordered a glass of apple juice at a local kopitiam. When my order came, I realised that my apple juice had something weird in it. I tasted it and it was salty. I asked the kopitiam’s manager what it was and why was it in my drink. He said it was called ‘asam boi’ and they use it to add flavour.
“I was inspired by the drink and created my apple lime asam boi-flavoured sorbet. Another day, one random man walked up to our store with a lot of jackfruits. He asked us to turn them into ice cream.
“So, we churned out the jackfruit flavoured gelato and I gave half the portion to the man as he brought in the jackfruits.
For Gowler, creating new tasty flavours is a challenge he enjoys.
“A hotel had also approached us once, to create a gelato flavour that is unique, which no one else offers. We created the salmon and wasabi flavored gelato for them.
“That is how I like to challenge myself with creating new flavours. To date, we have created about 57 flavours of gelato and sorbets,” he said, adding that they also have seasonal flavours like mooncake for the Mooncake festival and spiced pumpkin for Halloween.
Gowler said their bestselling flavours include Belgian chocolate pistachio, salted caramel, durian and apple lime asam boi sorbet.
“Our alcoholic gelatos and sorbets also do very well as people like the idea of ‘eating their drinks’. We have a range of premium gelato like Baileys, Guiness, Rum & Raisin, Pink Champagne sorbet and Margarita sorbet,” he said.
Get this: Jersey Jack Gelato also offers Diabetic gelato for those who are diabetic or watching their sugar intake.
“These types of gelato only contains fructose sugar, which is absorbed slowly by the body,” he said.
Tricycles around the city
Even though Gowler’s gelato joint in Jalan Berangan has been pulling in a large crowd since it opened its doors to customers in 2015, he wanted to bring his products to his customers.
“That is where the concept of selling the gelato in tricycles came from. As I have engineering background, I built the bikes myself and they are battery-powered.
“The tricycles are flexible and we get good exposure. Seeing tricycles in the city is also nostalgic for many," he said.
And don't worry; they have the necessary permits to operate the tricycles.
“We worked with the local authorities to get permit to peddle the products in the tricycles. Once we got the permit, we started selling.
"People can come and get a free tasting before they decide on the flavour to buy. We have four tricycles and they carry nine flavours at a time,” he said.
The tricycles can usually be spotted in busy areas around the city like near Central Market and Bursa Malaysia where it is a hit with the lunch-going crowd.
Jersey Jack Gelato’s tricycles are also available for functions like birthdays and corporate events around Klang Valley. They also do home delivery.
For those who would just like a taste, their gelato is available for RM12 for a single scoop
at the joint, or RM10 on the tricycles
“Again, these days, it is easier to get to the joint with the MRT and all. Just stop at the Bukit Bintang station and it is a three minutes’ walk from there,” said Gowler.
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