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Meet Gabriele Poli of Gelato Festival in West Hollywood

Today we’d like to introduce you to Gabriele Poli.

Gabriele, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
Florence is my hometown, and Florence is also the hometown of gelato—so I’ve been a great lover of gelato since I was a kid. When started my own company (an event organizing agency) when I was 19, it seemed natural to create a festival dedicated to this deliciousness. Since the first Gelato Festival was held in 2010, my team and I have gone on to host more than 100 decadently fun festivals across the world, where over 3,000 of the most accomplished gelato chefs compete with their original flavors. (It’s like the Olympics of gelato!) Attendees have the opportunity to taste all the competing flavors, vote for their favorite one, and even watch gelato chefs at work in the world’s largest frozen dessert laboratory on wheels.

Year after year, we’ve continued to customize the format, and have created something truly special and unique for the gelato industry. And now, we’ve even given the event a permanent home with our latest venture: a flagship store right here in LA, at 8906 in Melrose Avenue in West Hollywood, so people can experience, essentially, the festival year round. A true labor of love, the 3,000 square foot gelato wonderland features a rotating menu of fresh, artisanal Italian gelato flavors, a live production laboratory, classroom, and even a museum area highlighting the history of gelato and its milestones.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
I don’t think any entrepreneur would tell you it’s been a smooth road! One of the biggest hurdles in the beginning was simply trying to get people to understand what I was trying to develop. A festival dedicated to gelato, on the scale I was envisioning, had just never been done—and it seemed crazy to a lot of people. But after a decade in, we’ve developed a loyal fan base in many cities, with a much better understanding of why gelato should be celebrated. That’s been a great evolution to see.

Gelato Festival – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
Between the festivals and now, the flagship store, Gelato Festival is a totally unique project. We are very proud of our brand, our values and the fact that we are able to involve so many talented people and companies in what we do. We’re more than an event or simply a place to order gelato—we’ve really become a platform and a network that promotes the gelato industry and its artisans all over the world. We are still a small company, but we think globally and work globally, and we have representatives in Florence, London and NYC that run operations and marketing for the festivals. And now, with our flagship store, we can reach even more people. When all is said and done, though, I’m most happy and proud that we can bring joy to our attendees and customers—the kind that can only be inspired by the most delicious of desserts. I truly believe that that joy is what will help us to continue to grow and bring gelato to even more people around the world.

What were you like growing up?
I had many passions as a kid and was always moving. I have great memories riding horses with my father, and also spearfishing with my cousin. That adventurous spirit segued into an adventurous entrepreneurial spirit, and in many ways was the impetus for taking the leap to start my own business when I was 19 years old. I’m still always moving, always thinking, always planning—and Gelato Festival has been a great way for me to experiment and be 100% creative. No one festival is the same, because my team and I are always coming up with new ideas. Every day still feels like I’m a kid again, throwing out ideas and seeing them come to life.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Wonho Frank Lee for the images of the interiors/products (not the first image with people).

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