Morelli Ice Cream
by Kay Hare
I was introduced to Bibi Morelli in Roquebrune village whilst visiting a friend who has a weekend home in the old town. Roquebrune village is perched to the East of Monte Carlo, with wonderful birds eye views of the Principality and the Italian coast. It is a quiet, medieval village overlooked by a fortress that once dominated the settlement. There are restaurants, cafes and many local artisans as well as an active social community holding fetes and festivals throughout the year. One of the restaurants, La Grotte et Olivier, serves Morelli’s signature dairy vanilla (Fior Di Latte) ice cream which is thick and creamy and home made everyday straight from the purple signature ice cream maker, to the much-loved “secret” family recipe. This is where I was lucky enough to taste their ice cream and meet some of the Morelli family who now run the business.
Morelli’s is one of the oldest ice cream businesses in the world. Bibi’s great, great Grandfather moved from Naples in Italy to Scotland in 1907 and created the business of selling Italian ice cream. The business soon expanded and the slightly warmer climate of Broadstairs in, what is popularly coined the ‘garden of England’, Kent beckoned. They never looked back.
Currently Morelli’s have an international reputation with parlours in the Middle East, Mexico, the UK and other locations around the globe. They still own their original Morelli’s parlour in Broadstairs, which in 14 years will become 100 years old. Morelli’s presence in London is in the heart of Covent Garden, not only serving the fresh, home made dairy vanilla ice cream but as many flavours as you can dream up. From the classic Straciatella to the exotic Gorgonzola and honey, pear and parmesan or a even more ‘love it or hate it’ marmite flavour…! And if you prefer something stronger: try the Gin, Pomegranate and Fresh Mint sorbet. Morelli’s signature Kilimanjaro coffee is also on the menu, this can be enjoyed as a drink or an ice cream, or the best of both worlds, as a swirling, melting, not-to-be-missed Affogato!
Bibi and her husband, Kenneth, both manage the business. Bibi explained that each generation brings something new. Her father introduced the coffee and she herself wanted to take to the world the idea of enjoying fresh gelato sundaes as an experience. The introduction of sundaes, crepes and more desert style menus has captured the taste buds of millions. Not stopping there, Bibi previously trained and enjoyed a career as a banking lawyer. Her experience and vision encouraged the business to expand internationally. Seeing an opportunity to franchise Bibi has moved the business into a world wide operation. However, franchising a business does come without its challenges. It is paramount that there is a rigorous partner selection which is taken seriously with care and attention to ensure the right match is found. Bibi explained that all franchise partners have to share the same brand vision. This selection procedure guarantees the integrity and commitment to the product and the Italian style standards of design and service.
The company is in its fifth generation, there have been some changes but the business still insists on sourcing only the finest ingredients, the pistachio nuts are from Sicily, the cocoa comes from Venezuela and often the local fresh products are preferred such as the strawberries from Kent. The recipes have evolved with changing tastes and flavours and the branding has become more contemporary but the essence and spirit of Morelli’s is still the same. It is a family run business with the Italian attitude for quality and attention to detail and at the heart of Morelli’s inspiration is their slogan, enjoying that nostalgic pleasure and remembering to ‘indulge the child in you!’.
The future plans are to expand with 25 more parlours in the Middle East/Mexico and the launch of a luxury gourmet ice cream to be sold in premium supermarkets.
For further information please contact:
Tel: +44 01843 862511
Email: [email protected]
(with thanks to the photographs by Cristian Barnett/Waitrose Food)