By Matt Bennett
Sometimes, people have a change of heart. Mario Lozanov, excuse me Dr. Mario Lozanov, had a change of heart. One where he traded in a big paycheck at a specialty chemical company for, well, hand-crafted Italian delights. Maybe you’ve noticed his pint-sized products in the dessert section at your local neighborhood market or perhaps you’ve seen one of his carts at an event around town. Regardless, by now, hopefully you’ve tried what he calls, ‘one of his loves’ – City Gelato.
Lozanov can’t help but laugh when he explains himself as the doctor making the gelato. Born in Italy and raised in Bulgaria, Lozanov, after finally receiving his visa, studied chemistry at Wayne State University in Detroit where he eventually earned his Ph.D.
“I came to Baton Rouge for a job offer I could not refuse,” said Lozanov.
Years down the road, though, the chemist grew bored with the bureaucratic corporate world.
“I’m wasting my time, let me do something on the side,” said Lozanov. “I was thinking to bring lobster from Maine and sell on the food truck. They’re very yummy lobster sandwiches. Oh my god yeah. They’re expensive but they’re really, really good.”
However, Lozanov ultimately left his full-time job completely and set his sights on something sweeter instead. When a management position at a local gelato shop called Bacio Di Roma made itself available, wasting no time, Lozanov jumped on the opportunity. The four-page proposal he submitted at the co-owner’s request earned him the job, and it was here he learned the ins and outs of the business.
After a lot of hard work and certainly persistence, Lozanov began his own company, City Gelato.
Starting out a little over two years ago, in the sweltering July heat, Lozanov sold his product out of three carts at two different locations – City Park and The Farmer’s Market. His refreshing, homemade recipes, which he produced at the LSU AgCenter Food Incubator, certainly caught on and today customers can purchase pints of it at Bet-R, Calandro’s, Calvin’s, Spanish Town Market and numerous other grocery stores throughout the Capital City. In addition, along with still being onsite at public events, Lozanov has also made his gelato carts rentable for birthday parties, company gatherings, picnics, weddings and all sorts of other private events.
When describing the Gelato creation process, one can still definitely hear the chemist in Lozanov.
“To make a good product, you have to carefully optimize the ratios between fats, proteins, sugar and water,” said Lozanov.
Italian for ice cream, gelato, comparatively actually contains significantly less air and fat. Lozanov also uses local milk and local sugar in his gelato.
City Gelato’s current flavor lineup includes caramel, chocolate, strawberry and vanilla with chocolate chip and coffee on the way for next month.
In the future, Lozanov hopes for his own shop but for now he finally seems happy with his newfound career.
“I fell in love with two things in Baton Rouge, tango and gelato,” said Lozanov. “I’m really excited, because I’m really giving a good product to people. So, I don’t know, I just fell in love with it.”