MONTCLAIR, NJ - Mike Guerriero can now add Champion Chef to his name after winning a national title for his blueberry basil gelato.

During the Gelato Festival America 2019, held in Miami, the 11 top gelato chefs in America competed for the gold medal with original artisanal flavors. A professional judging panel of 14 and the Miami public tasted each entry and then voted on the best gelato in America. Guerriero's Blueberry Basil made the cut.

Guerriero is the owner of Gelotti Essex in Montclair and Caldwell, which he opened nearly two years ago. Guerriero got his start working as a kid in the Paterson location and was then given an opportunity to franchise the store.

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Guerriero was crowned 1st place winner of the 2019 American Final and received a beautiful cup by Florentine goldsmith Paolo Penko, presented by PreGel, the official supplier of gelato ingredients for Gelato Festival America.

This win qualifies Guerriero as one of three to represent America at the Gelato Festival World Masters 2021 in Italy. In the Gelato Festival World Masters 2021, there will be a total of 36 chefs from all over the world competing for the main title.

Guerriero describes his winning flavor, “Sweet Jersey Blueberries, garden grown Genovese Basil and fresh squeezed lemon juice are what make our gelato so good.”

2nd place went to Texas Pecan Sea Salt Caramel, a caramel gelato flavored with Dulce de Leche, Mediterranean Sea salt and decorated with toasted Texas pecans. 

3rd place went to Trinacrium, Following the triangular island shape of Trinacria, modern-day Sicily, Maria Liliana Biondo of uGOgelato in Miami, Florida, selected a trio of D.O.C. ingredients: Pistachio, Almonds, and Oranges as a "variegato". To finalize before serving, the combined flavors are sprayed with special citrus oil that enhances and completes the sensorial experience.  

Guerriero also was awarded the Gela-to-go Award, which is a special sention certificate awarded to the chef who sold the most gelato, with an impressive 18 pints.

Guerriero then earned the Kids Jury special mention certificate, as well. Little jurors both pre-selected and among the little guests of the Festival, tasted all the flavors in the competition and selected their favorite. Each Gelato Chef was then given 30 seconds to stack as many scoops of gelato as possible into a cup. Guerriero won with 24, breaking his previous record of 22 scoops and the world record of 23 scoops set last year. 

The 2019 Miami Competing Flavors included the following: 

Giacomo d’Alessandro Polosud Gelato Coffee Pastries - New York, New York Winning Flavor: Dark Chocolate Surprise Bella Gelateria Vancouver, Canada Winning Flavor: Salted B.C. Cherry Cheesecake Maria Liliana Biondo uGOgelato - Miami, Florida Winning Flavor: Trinacrium Mike Guerriero Gelotti Essex - Caldwell, New Jersey Winning Flavor: Blueberry Basil Diego Comparin Paciugo Gelato - Texas, Texas Winning Flavor: Texas Pecan Sea Salt Caramel Daniela Zomparelli Lola’s Gelato - Toronto, Canada Winning Flavor: Sassy Sea Turtle Nazario Melchionda Frost, a Gelato Shoppe - Tucson, Arizona Winning Flavor: Bagigi Peanut Gianluigi Dellaccio Dolci Gelati - Washington, D.C. Winning Flavor: Honey, Mascarpone and Fig Gelato Maurizio Melani Veneta Gelato Italiano - Valencia, Spain Winning Flavor: Sicily Orange Sunrise Walter Bergamaschi Gelato Dolce Vita - Phoenix, Arizona Winning Flavor: Stupefy Eugenia Sardelli Gelateria Sardelli - Tuscany, Italy Winning Flavor: Fior d’Arancia

The Gelato Festival America event gives visitors the opportunity to experience the secrets of high-quality gelato, learn about the production techniques by watching the artisans at work in the ‘laboratory’, and taste all the competing flavors, voting for their favorite one.

The Gelato Festival made its debut in Florence in 2010 inspired by the idea of the first gelato recipe by the architect Bernardo Buontalenti in 1559.

Since then, the Gelato Festival has expanded its borders, beginning in Italy, then spreading throughout Europe and finally to the United States in 2017, with a total of 64 festivals, in preparation for the world championship of the Gelato Festival World Masters in 2021.