James Boettcher used to cut and juice 130 oranges in 11 minutes flat – a Sunterra juicing record. Back then, he was an eager young teenager working every PD day, weekend or other spare moment at Sunterra Market Britannia Plaza.
These days he’s just as eager, but instead of orange juice, he’s focused on gelato. He even went to Italy to become an accredited expert. And one taste of this small batch artisan gelato in seriously sumptuous flavours like bourbon vanilla bean, dark chocolate caramel sea salt or mango pineapple will show you the proof is in the pudd-, er… gelato.Clearly a renaissance man, James whips us up some lattes on a small machine set up between a cooler full of gelato and a decaled Vespa scooter. We’re at the Fiasco Gelato test kitchen in Calgary and it has personality, to say the least. The walls are sprinkled with motivational sayings, there is a glamtastic chandelier in the otherwise modest meeting room, and the back door is labelled Oompa Loompa Land.
“There are zero boundaries to what we do,” says James. So if a partner restaurant asks for, say, blue cheese and pear or bacon and pecan gelato, James and his team are happy to make it happen. “We move very quickly and learn as we go,” he says.
This means Fiasco Gelato flavours change often, based on what foods are in season, what’s trending, and what’s just plain fun, James tells us. In addition to their Great 8, you can find special flavours for Love This City collaborations (Bananimal Cracker for the Calgary Zoo was a big hit), holidays (mini egg gelato!) and any time a celebration is necessary. Immediately after the Olympic sweep of men’s and women’s curling and hockey, Fiasco launched a limited edition coffee-inspired Double Double collection with all proceeds going to the Canadian Paralympic Team. They even hand painted the 30 exclusive jars gold.
So what exactly is Fiasco’s recipe for success? Their all-natural gelato and dairy-free sorbetto are made 10 litres at a time, with premium ingredients from fresh local milk to Sicilian pistachios. Their ever-growing partnerships are based on handshakes and integrity. Their social media presence is fun (and makes us drool onto our screens). But James credits Fiasco’s incredible growth to the “pretty cool people” the company has attracted. He spends quite a while recounting each employee’s story to us and smiling like a proud parent whose kid just won a science fair project, although at thirty-ish he’s not even the oldest employee at Fiasco Gelato. That designation belongs to his dad John, who works logistics.Whether the key ingredient is the quality, the people or the plan, we can all agree that Fiasco Gelato is succeeding in its mission to make the world a better place, one tiny spoonful at a time.
“Never doubt your ability to make a difference,” says James. “It might be that small, but sometimes it’s enough.”