Kulnaththa Wiwaiwuthphinyo is a professed gelato lover, and it has always been her sweetest dream to have a gelato business of her own. As soon as she finished her bachelor's degree in business in Thailand, she flew to Italy to pursue her passion.
Furby gelato will be the star at Just Jela’s booth at Central Department Store’s ice-cream festival.
At Carpigiani Gelato University, she learned to make gelato from scratch, calculating the right recipe and developing her very own flavours.
Combining her business background with her new-found skills, she started a small online gelato business in Thailand almost a year ago under the name Just Jela. It was nothing major _ just a Facebook page to test the waters before venturing further along the route to bigger dreams.
Although she had not planned on taking customised orders, she did not turn down the opportunities when her clients had specific preferences.
"Some clients asked me if I could make gelato in cartoon shapes, and although it's quite difficult, I gave it a try. The feedback turned out to be quite exceptional and more people started asking for customised products," said Kulnaththa.
Cartoon-shaped desserts are nothing new _ today we have hundreds of cupcake and cookie shops in Thailand that can do the same. However, since Kulnaththa's product is gelato, it is a big challenge.
"Whatever method that worked when I studied in Italy does not always work in Thailand's heat and humidity," she said. "Gelato melts very fast here since it has less fat than ice cream, so I have very limited time to finish my work before it starts to melt and lose shape."
Another big challenge is her own determination to make every part of her work not just edible, but also enjoyable. She has seen that with many decorated desserts, most people do not eat the decorative gum paste or fondant.
"That's not what I want for my work. I would feel bad if something looks pretty, but gets thrown away in the end," she added. "I want to make something that looks good and tastes even better, so most of my decorations are made from chocolate. The price of my product is not cheap, so it only makes sense that every part should be enjoyable."
Rilak kuma gelato.
Her creations range from "gelato illusions" such as gelato shaped as cupcakes to popular characters like Furbies and LINE Pop cartoons. She said while gelato and chocolate have their own limitations, her ideas and imagination do not.
"I can always find a way to make my imagination come true without compromising the standard and quality," Kulnaththa said.
Just Jela offers over 100 flavours of gelato, and the list will keep expanding. Kulnaththa thinks single flavours _ the usual strawberry or vanilla _ are not distinctive and interesting enough, so she always mixes a group of flavours together to create a new taste. Sometimes she gets inspirations from children's favourite treats. There is no limit to what new flavours she might come up with in the future.
"I see how kids like Sugus candy, so I make Sugus-flavoured gelato from the actual candy. It's a big hit among the younger customers. Other popular flavours of ours include Cheesy Ritz, Yakult and many other bakery-inspired flavours. For adults, cocktail flavours like pina colada and mojito are quite in demand, too," said Kulnaththa, adding that every flavour is free from artificial colouring.
Due to the effort required in creating her gelato wonders, as well as the high-quality ingredients, her products are more on the pricey side compared to other ice-cream cakes on the market. Her gelato cupcakes are priced at about 90 baht per piece and a 1-pound gelato cake starts at 600 baht. The price, however, does not stop gelato lovers from putting in their orders. From a small business, she now has to expand her small factory and open a shop to cope with the demand. Her first shop is set to open late next month at Prima Sathorn Building on Naradhiwas Rajanagarindra Road. This month and next month, she is exhibiting her products with Central Department Store, which is organising ice-cream festivals at its Rama 3, Ratanathibet and Pinklao branches. The Furby gelato will be Just Jela's star product.
Customised gelato cake can be inspired by anything from feminine sakura to Spider-man.
About the author
- Writer: Napamon Roongwitoo
Position: Outlook Writer