Amsterdam Vegan Hotspot: Massimo Ijsfabriek + exclusive interview with Massimo Bertonasco

Let’s be honest; summer is incomplete without ice cream. Unfortunately, most ice-cream shops in town don’t really have (a lot of) vegan options. That’s why I was ecstatic when I discovered Massimo IJsfabriek (English: Ice Cream Factory). Well actually I didn’t discover it; my mum, dad and sister did. But nevertheless…

Besides the 4/5 fruit sorbet flavors there are always at least 8 non-fruit vegan flavors. This means at least 12 vegan flavors! Sounds rather magnificent, am I right. Furthermore, the flavors are home made, natural, and the ingredients are biological. If you did not have enough reason to eat ice cream before, you have now. You’re welcome.

I was lucky enough to get to talk ton Massimo Bertonasco (52) the founder of Massimo IJsfabriek about why he opened his ice cream shop, how he decides on what flavors to make, his philosophy and his hopes and dreams for the future. You can read all about it in the interview below!

 

Firstly, I was wondering what led to your decision to open your ice cream salon now, and what you did before. 

At first, I did not think I was capable of opening my own ice cream salon. A lot of things led up to it. I have been making ice cream throughout my whole life; my grandmother had an ice cream shop when I was a kid, and I always made ice cream at home. But before opening my own ice cream salon I have done a lot of other things. As a young man, I was a tourist guide, then I had a bit of a life style switch and started working at a bank at the age of 30. After 12 years of working for ING bank I quit and started my own consulting company, which I sold last year. At the age of 50 I had built up enough courage to finally do something all by myself and open Massimo Ijsfabriek. Because by that time, I had experience as an entrepreneur and experience working with organisations. I was more complete as a person, so to say. And by that time I was ready; I knew what I had to do, I knew how to do it, and knew what I wanted.

I am vegan, and I was pleasantly surprised to see such a big variety of flavors for vegans. Since most ice cream places don’t really have that, I was wondering how you decided on incorporating a vegan corner.

Well, first things first I noticed that there were many people that desired that. For example kids, that were lactose intolerant, or adults that were either lactose intolerant or did not want to consume milk by choice. So I thought, let’s add a vegan corner so we can please everyone. It was really because people asked me too!

I have noticed that the flavors keep changing, how so?

Well, let’s say we have the “evergreen” flavors such as pistachio, hazelnut, stracciatella, chocolate,  vanilla, strawberry and melon, those always remain. The rest of the flavors we keep changing up. It depends on the fruit of the season. Also, sometimes we decide to make something special. For example; we made a flavor with dark chocolate and caramelized pistachio nuts, and another time we made a flavor with Almonds and Apricots. We like experimenting, and keeping our customers wondering what’s going to be next.

Where do you get the ingredients from?

Our philosophy is that we aspire to predominantly work with small businesses. To give an example; The lemons that I use come from a small orchard that is owned by my friend Paula, who is a lady from my town back in Italy. These lemon trees, that are now 70/80 years old, were planted by her grandfather. The coffee flavoured ice cream is made with “Giovanacci” coffee. It is a small coffee roasting business that uses 11 types of Arabica, the superior quality of coffee. These 11 types of Arabica come from 11 different small farms that work in a sustainable way. The same philosophy applies to the milk we use. We get it from a farmer in Weesp, who makes biological milk. The cows stay outside, you know those good, happy, healthy cows that eat grass. I find it very important to know exactly what is in the ice cream that we make, and where every ingredient is from.

I think it is important to support these small businesses. 90% of the businesses we work with are small ones. We are small ourselves, therefore we like working with other small ones.

Considering all of that, you could say that this ice cream is healthy!

Well, yes it is of importance to us that we make it as healthy as possible. We do not use any hydrogenic fats, half fabricates or chemical emulgators. We use natural emulgators, that are extracted from plants. An example would be baobab flour.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

In retirement, haha!

But what is your ultimate dream for Massimo IJsfabriek.

I would like it to stay the same. It is small, and I like it like this. However I would like to address the following; In Holland there are 3500 “so said” artisan ice cream parlors. Now, in my opinion this is been said way much, and done way to little. So my dream would be: that in the future much more ice cream makers would abandon chemicals, half-fabricates, the powders and get back to artisan ice cream. Natural ice cream that; melts when it’s hot outside (because that means no hydrogenic fats are used to keep it in place), and is substantial and not mostly air. I hope that more ice cream makers will have similar philosophy to ours. We love making ice cream; having the fruit in our hands, toasting the pistachio, it is fun!

And last but not least; what is your favorite ice cream flavor?

Chocolate! Always has been, chocolate.

(Just in case you are wondering my one is Almond)

Alright! You made it till the end of this article. Gold star for you. Now go visit Massimo Ijsfabriek to reward yourself with ice cream!

Oh, and don’t forget to check out their Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/massimoijsfabriek/

 

 

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