Producer’s Corner: Joe Sykes from Joelato

While many people dream of giving up the day job to turn their hobby into a business, not many actually do. 

But someone who did take the plunge is Joe Sykes, turning his love of making gelato at home into a thriving artisan business. 

The 40-year-old had fallen out of love with his day job in marketing when he decided to risk it all to work in the food industry. 

He fell in love with luxury ice cream as a child after visiting the iconic Berthillon tea room in France, but found it hard to get anything similar at home in Scotland. 

‘I’m pretty much a massive food nerd, as is my wife, and both of us had fallen out of love with day jobs,’ Joe said.

‘We both desperately loved the idea of having our own company and it being in food.

‘When I was little, we went on holiday to France to try Berthillon ice cream which you find in the centre of Paris.

‘They’ve got a very famous shop there and for me it is as good as it gets, it’s the ice cream that has inspired us and we want to become the sort of Scottish version if you will. 

‘We want to use very and very high quality ingredients.

‘Berthillon has been going since 1957 I don’t think and they have ever really changed their philosophy.

‘There are very few high quality ice cream or gelato companies in the UK, just a handful really.

‘It’s probably silly saying we want to make the best gelato possible but certainly the best gelato we can make anyway.’ 

Despite whipping up gelato at home with a deft hand, Joe and his wife Lucie wanted to learn more about the process and took on a two week course at Carpigiani Gelato University in Bologna. 

‘All I had ever done was make ice cream at home using other people’s recipes, I had no idea about the science behind ice cream,’ he said. 

‘The main difference between the two is that your typical ice cream uses a lot of cream, but in gelato it’s primarily milk. 

‘Proper gelato has been made that day or maybe the day before and it’s really a fresh product. 

‘Your typical machine will churn gelato more slowly than it would ice cream so that means you get a denser product with less air which gives you that super smooth, silky texture. 

‘The other key difference is that you serve it to your customer at a slightly warmer temperature, around -12 degrees Celsius, whereas ice cream might be around -14.’ 

Joe and Lucie opened Joelato in 2018 and haven’t looked back since, churning out around 2,000 litres of gelato a month. 

As well as their shop in Stockbridge they can also be found at the Bonnie & Wild market in St James Quarter, serving up classics like rich chocolate and strawberry alongside more usual flavours like their best seller salted pistachio, mojitio, Ferdi – salted honey and honeycomb – and hazelnut, made with hazelnut butter from Italy. 

Like many businesses in today’s economy they have had to learn to diversify, especially given the seasonal nature of the business. 

‘It gets a lot quieter in the winter, there’s no denying it,’ Joe said.

‘We’ve got some ideas to keep the Stockbridge shop busy. Last winter we developed a hot chocolate based on a lovely memory of when I lived in Paris from a chocolate shop.

‘I remade it just from my memory and I’m looking forward to selling it again in the winter. We are thinking about doing waffles too.’ 

But regardless, Joe’s living out his dream, something only most of us aspire to do.

Read more news and reviews on Scottish Field’s food and drink pages.

Plus, don’t miss the November’s issue of Scottish Field magazine.