Bespoke gelato comes to Oak Park
By Tessa Marguerite Outland
Conscious Creamery has been mixing up scrumptious, small-batch gelato by hand since 2016. The business operated out of a commercial kitchen, but now the vegan treat shop has a storefront in Oak Park.
For owners Andrea and Kevin Seppinni, choosing the location at 3400 Broadway was like waiting for the perfect pint of cookies and cream. Says Andrea, “We’re thrilled to be opening there specifically. It just feels right and we’ve been welcomed so far. It feels like home to me.”
The couple began crafting gelato after a trip to Europe for their 30th wedding anniversary. Andrea, a classically trained chef, had been making vegan frozen desserts for friends, family and clients since 2009. Once they experienced the goodness of gelato in Vienna, the couple decided to plunge into their own vegan venture when they returned home to Sacramento.
Each handcrafted Conscious Creamery recipe is made without artificial fillers, stabilizers, flavors or colors. All flavors and colors are plant-derived, many extracted from fresh fruits, spices, nuts and seeds found at local farmers markets. Base gelato recipes are soy and gluten free, made by blending organic raw cashews and water.
Conscious Creamery offers traditional Italian flavors, plus inventive blends such as rose, golden milk and roasted strawberry. Andrea tells their story:
What’s the difference between gelato and ice cream?
“Gelato contains less fat and less air, almost always, and is churned more slowly than ice cream so it gets less whip in it. It seems richer and maybe fattier because it’s very smooth and creamy, but it’s actually less of both so it has a very high flavor impact on the palette. It is served warmer than ice cream and it’s softer.”
Why is it important to you to use organic and non-GMO ingredients?
“A number of reasons. No. 1, because as far as the organic part goes, it is less impactful for the most part on the planet. It has less chemicals, so it’s important to us to try and source those whenever we can. It’s also important to try to source things that are fair trade. Obviously, we can’t buy cashews or chocolate locally. So the things we can’t source locally we want to make sure are fair-traded so people can make a living.”
Where do you get the fresh fruits, spices, nuts and seeds?
“We get them from a variety of sources depending on the season. We’re really lucky that in California we have a long growing season. We’re really fortunate that we have one of the biggest farmers markets in the nation right in Downtown. We try to utilize that as much as possible.”
What fruits or flavors will be in season in May?
“Hopefully, the first round of strawberries will be coming up. Mint and a lot of other berries and things like that will start coming into season and rotating throughout. It will depend on what went really well this year crop-wise. I go back every Sunday to check with my farmers and see.”
What is the most memorable compliment you’ve received from a patron?
“We got a compliment from one client who said she’s not even really an ice cream lover but has been a convert because of our gelato. My goal is for someone never to say, ‘It’s really good for being vegan.’”
What are your and Kevin’s favorite flavors?
“My historically favorite flavor in life has always been mocha almond fudge, which isn’t necessarily a traditional gelato flavor, but I make it a gelato flavor because I love it. I love spumone. I’m a traditionalist for Italian flavors, but I also like experimenting. So every year when I come up with different flavors, I fall in love with those as I make them. Kevin’s favorite is cookies and cream.”
What is the most interesting gelato flavor you’ve created?
“A tomato basil with balsamic vinegar reduction. It was for a tomato festival and it was unusually good. It was almost like something you would have as an intermezzo, you know, with your meal. I’m not really trying to make really weird things, just things I think are going to taste delicious.”