The Gregorio Family of Newcastle
The Ice Cream Alliance was something my father didn’t really have any time for, he viewed it as a club which couldn’t do anything for him. However, he did go every year to the ICA show with the five of us in tow. He never used its services back in the day as he did things his way.
When he passed away in 1996, we never thought about the insurance for the vans. At that time, we had five vans with a fleet policy with my father as the policy holder. When the renewal date came early April, the Co-op stated that we couldn’t have a fleet policy and the insurance for each van would be individual policies and the rates were extortionate.
We were in our 20’s without ever insuring anything and now we needed to insure a big Pollock 508d and 2 full cowl Morrison Onan vans and a couple of hard vans my father used to rent. In the 90’s Tom Davison used to come around our factory at Pitt Street with a luton van selling crisps chocolate bars etc and we told him we couldn’t get insured anywhere. He suggested we should join the Alliance as being a member would enable us to get looked at as a company who had been trading since 1966 not as named drivers, so therefore we approached Roger Reed trading as RAM insurance and he gave us insurance in a matter of hours as we joined the Ice Cream Alliance and used their members benefit to get insurance.
Every year we used to go to the show and we would look at the Edoni boilers as I had a burning passion to make my own ice cream. For years we used to tyre kick Carlo Edoni’s stand just looking around the machine but not talking to him as we couldn’t afford the 50-gallon boiler we constantly looked at. Then one-year Carlo told us: “Get away, go on, get off the stand you three are just messing around” (brilliant sales man). We were quiet taken aback and so, we stopped to talk to him. The first question he asked was: “How many vans you got”, we said “Five” and he said “Well if you buy this boiler, that’s six. As it’ll make you the same money as another van”. The second question he asked, “Do you go out on the drink?”. We replied “yes” and Carlo came back with: “How much do you spend, £40 a night once a week?” “Yeah” each one of us replied. “Well you could buy this machine now for less than £120 a week!”. So, there and then we signed up to buy the second-hand refurbished boiler in no less than 5 minutes.
The next hard part was trying to cook some ice cream that was as good as the one we were buying from Carlo Rea’s at Westerhope. My mother used to work for Carlo’s Zia (Auntie), Angela. She used to have her process in the garage at Rye Hill Elswick, where my mother, Elena, was a maid and would cook the ice cream and work in their cafe during the late 1950’s. She once cooked a pigeon in the boiler but that’s a different story all together! So, when the Edoni pasteuriser arrived back at Pitt Street (our house and factory), I asked my mother to do some cooking. Well as it was completely different machine, as the Edoni pasteuriser: heats, cools and store in the same vessel and the machine she worked with 30 odd years before was a separate system (plant). My mother refused as she didn’t know where to start.
So, it was left to my connections within Ice cream Alliance to help. I was so honoured, the best of the best, most knowledgeable man I have ever met about manufacturing ice cream step forward, Ralph Jobes (with Tommy D driving him)! They came around one night and Ralph showed us every aspect in a crash course on: manufacturing, balancing a recipe what ingredients work best for soft ice cream. Every question I could dream of, he would answer. Which only Ralph could with his unbelievable photographic memory. I met Ralph at the northern committee meetings, as I went there for the purpose of gaining knowledge on how to manufacture quality ice cream and to tell the truth, we still use his soft serve recipe today with the Ciccarelli brand from our factory in Cramlington.
In a way, even though my father never liked the Alliance, I can tell you that directly or indirectly the Alliance has shaped our Company into what we do today: Manufacturing, Wholesale, Gelateria and Mobiling. A one stop place where we do everything. This is why I feel personally that we as ice cream men should rally around the Alliance and not ask what it can do for us but what we can do for it.
Written by Domenico Gregorio (NEC Delegate Northern Division)
For further information on The Ice Cream Alliance, the only Trade Association for the UK Ice Cream Industry, please contact us on 01332 203333 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.