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Meet the Toronto chemical engineer who's reinventing gelato

Flavours like roasted hay and porcini mushroom depend on science for perfect appeal.

Death in Venice co-owner Kaya Ogruce is putting his chemical engineering skills to work making ice cream in Toronto.

Liz Beddall/Metro

Death in Venice co-owner Kaya Ogruce is putting his chemical engineering skills to work making ice cream in Toronto.

One Toronto gelatician says the secret to a perfect scoop is all in the science.

Kaya Ogruce used his education in chemical engineering to find the perfect formula for his the savory gelato recipes he’s dishing up via his new business, Death in Venice.

“I worked for about six weeks on an Excel sheet that helps me measure the structure of the ingredients I use, like the sugar content in a beet,” Ogruce said. “That formula tells me the exact amount of the other ingredients I need to add.”

Four months ago, he opened a display inside the Constantinople Bakery near Queen and Bathurst and started selling gelato that features traditional and less conventional flavors, like roasted hay and porcini mushroom.

“I don’t really have a sweet tooth,” Ogruce said. “People don’t know gelato can taste more like a meal.”

Ogruce describes himself as a gelato geek and says when it comes to his work the devil is in the details.

“Complete emulsification is important,” he said. “Too much free water in the mixture will turn to ice and too much protein will give you a powdery texture. Basically, every batch requires new calculations.”

The idea to combine his love for the frozen delicacy with his past experience came after a motorcycle trip through Sicily. Ogruce stopped for a gelato with his girlfriend during a year-long sabbatical and decided he could make his own for a living.

“The last job I had was head of refinery for Becel,” Ogruce said. “But I knew I had more to offer.”

Ogruce’s creations can be delivered to you home and he plans on opening a stall at Union Station Market this summer. 

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