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Baboo Gelato

After years of global travel, four children and an orchard overflowing with fruit, what better move than to launch two Italian-style gelato kiosks in Dorset. They now employ up to 40 staff.

Italian training

When husband and wife Annie and Sam came back to England after years working around the world, they found themselves living in West Dorset with a rambling market garden full of berries and orchard fruit.

In 2014 they started Baboo Gelato, using their fruit to make Italian-style gelato and opening two cheery kiosks on two famous beaches, West Bay and Lyme Regis. Their four children are tasters-in-chief.

‘Annie is half-Russian and half-Irish,’ explains Sam, ‘So the name Baboo comes from babushka, in honour of her granny, who escaped from Stalin with her five children in 1930. Annie can remember learning to cook at her apron strings.’ 

After two years in Dorset, with the children then aged five to 14, the couple decided to go into business. Annie went to the Carpigiani University di Gelato in Bologna to train as a professional gelatiere, doing various specialist courses as she went on.

‘There are huge companies in Italy selling flavours and pastes,’ explains Sam, ‘But in Bologna they were making gelato from scratch.’ Back at home, they set about using high-quality fruit, much of it from their own garden, with organic milk from a farm in Somerset. They spent a year before opening just working on flavours and recipes. 

Baboo Gelato Baboo Gelato
Baboo Gelato

Sweet taste of success

Gelato has a higher milk content than ice cream and is churned more slowly. Some flavours work better than others – damsons, raspberries and strawberries, for example, produce intense flavours, while apples don’t work nearly as well. 

‘We’ve now got 40 flavours,’ says Sam, ‘Which means 100 different ingredients. But we do avoid novelty: having the kiosks means that we sell to the public, so we know what works and what doesn’t. And most people want traditional core flavours.’

They got their first kiosk in 2016 and soon learnt to restrict their beach range to just 10 flavours, three of which change with the seasons. ‘We get a lovely rhythm going through the year,’ he says, ‘We’re just finishing rhubarb, then it will be elderflower, blackcurrants, strawberries and raspberries, plums and pears, then winter citruses.’

The kiosks, he thinks, have been key to their success, because they get immediate feedback from customers. They have now expanded into an industrial unit with views over the Dorset countryside, employ between 10 and 40 staff depending on the season and the business is doubling every year. The sweet taste of success. 

Find Baboo Gelato on our website here.