Helado Gelato Crafts Next-Level Gelato in the Hudson Valley

Led by Culinary Institute of America grads, Helado Gelato crafts unconventional gelato flavors that locals adore.

There’s a lot of ice cream in the Hudson Valley. (Don’t believe us? Check out this guide.)

What there’s far less of, however, is gelato. And yes, they are different. While ice cream tends to be lighter, gelato is denser and creamier thanks to its higher proportion of milk and lower proportion of cream. It’s the stuff of Italian food lover dreams and, now, it’s making major waves in the Hudson Valley.

In Dutchess County, Helado Gelato is tapping into the world of gelato – but not quite like you might expect. The company is the brainchild of co-owners Chelsea Ringquist and Tony Fernandez, two Culinary Institute of America (CIA) graduates with significant experience in the Hudson Valley’s food scene. While they each boast a veritable laundry list of work with top local restaurants and food businesses, their collaboration on Helado Gelato represents a true passion project for them both.

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Helado gelato ice cream

“As culinary science graduates, we take our research seriously and thus spent several months reading through literature to better understand the process and develop our own ‘twist,’” the pair explains. “The first step was to become experts in the elements of our desired products: ice cream, gelato, and sorbet.”

Drawing inspiration from Frozen Desserts by Chef Francisco Migoya, the duo commenced extensive research into other companies, branding, prices, and flavors. Above all, they knew they wanted to make something accessible for eaters with a variety of dietary restrictions, a topic near and dear to Ringquist’s heart.

“As a type I diabetic, monitoring my carbohydrate intake has always proved challenging,” she explains. “I knew that if I ever pursued a business of my own, making a product accessible to everyone would be vital to success.”

Tony Fernandez
Tony Fernandez in the kitchen

Of course, it helps that Ringquist and Fernandez have ample experience in the culinary industry. For Ringquist, entry into the world of food started early, since her grandparents owned and operated an eatery in Vermont for over 20 years and her father also held a number of food service positions. In the Hudson Valley, she interned with Maya Kaimal to develop products and help contribute to her latest cookbook, Indian Flavor Every Day: Simple Recipes and Smart Techniques to Inspire. She also developed a limited-edition Swedish meatball pizza for Poughkeepsie’s Hudson & Packard.

For Fernandez, meanwhile, his food knowledge base expanded while working in restaurants across the world. Close to home, he most recently worked with Mark Elia, owner of Hudson Valley Sausage Company and Elia’s BBQ Pit and Catering.

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“It was always hard for me to nail just one thing down,” he observes. “I wanted to immerse myself in as many different cultures and cuisines as possible.”

Helado Gelato funfetti ice cream

With Helado Gelato, he and Ringquist can do just that. Just as the brand name represents a fusion of cultures, so too do the products themselves. From their production facility at the Poughkeepsie Underwear Factory, they churn out flavors ranging from stracciatella and sweet cream to the more unconventional miso maple ginger, lavender lemonade, and yuzu. They love to cater to client needs, especially when they receive requests for dairy-free and gluten-free iterations.

“Most of our inspiration comes from happy memories and international travel,” Fernandez explains. “The morir sonando flavor is a play on the Dominican beverage that I had grown up sipping in the sweltering New York City summer months. Our colorful funfetti gelato is an ode to the wedding cake baked for our 2020 nuptials.”

In terms of how they craft their flavors, the partners rely upon their knowledge gained from the CIA’s culinary science program to test and test again in order to develop just the right formulations.

Chelsea Ringquist
Chelsea Ringquist in the kitchen

“Our goal is to transport our consumers to a place of comfort, familiarity, and nostalgia; we didn’t all grow up just eating vanilla and chocolate,” Ringquist observes. “We hope to rekindle the happy childhood memories of every guest. Whether it’s from the dorayaki cakes of Japan, creamy horchata of Mexico and Spain, or just my grandmother’s cinnamon-sugar donuts, there’s something for everyone.”

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Currently, they source ingredients from Restaurant Depot and Red Barn Produce in the Hudson Valley. As they expand, their aim is to incorporate more local purveyors and small businesses onto their vendor list.

So where can one find Helado Gelato in the Hudson Valley? To start, head to {pretty to think so} in Rhinebeck, where Chef Mark Margiotta serves up scoops of Helado Gelato as a sweet finish following farm-to-table meals.

Helado gelato

When asked about how the collaboration with the Rhinebeck restaurant came about, Fernandez explains that it all stemmed from a single conversation.

“I worked front-of-house and had become good friends with Chef Mark Margiotta,” he explains. “During a casual conversation, I mentioned our gelato making, and Chef asked if we could handle a plant-based sweet potato version. After some researching and testing, we developed a product that has now become a staple on PTTS’s dessert menu. Since our first iteration, Chef has trusted us in cultivating an evolving repertoire of craveable flavors and decadent textures for his guests.”

Of course, that’s just the start for Helado Gelato. In July 2023, the brand collaborated with Saiko Bento at Reason & Ruckus in Poughkeepsie on a one-night-only pop-up during which it offered three Japanese-inspired flavors: yuzu sorbet, dorayaki (red bean paste) gelato, and a Sakura flower and cherry gelato swirl.

Orange ice cream in a bowl

Looking ahead, Fernandez and Ringquist have their eyes on development and expansion. They’re excited to launch a website and continue to share news and updates on social media (keep an eye out for merchandise in the near future). In terms of production, they plan to move to a new facility in Poughkeepsie soon, with an eventual expansion to a barn in Dallas, TX, to follow.

As far as new flavors go, the sky is the limit.

“Much of our time is spent doing research and product testing, but with every successful flavor comes an idea for three more,” they note. “One of the most important things we can do now is get our name out there, share what we’re passionate about, and learn as much as we can from our foodie friends.”

At the end of the day, they’re excited to share what they love with the foodie community.

“We are hospitality professionals at our core with an appetite for smiling faces,” Ringquist notes. “Our ultimate goal is to share our passion for gelato with the entire nation, one scoop at a time.”

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