Champion ice cream-maker Luciano Di Meo of Whitley Bay is celebrating after being once again crowned the Best in Britain.
Just 12 months after his vanilla ice cream was voted the best in the UK he has wowed judges at The National Ice Competition who have bestowed the Champion of Champions accolade on him for his strawberry ice cream.
The competition is run by The Ice Cream Alliance, the trade body for the UK’s £1.1bn ice cream industry, and attracts entries from across the UK and Ireland.
The Di Meo family, who have been making ice cream for more than 100 years, run Di Meo’s ice cream parlour and pizzeria in Marine Avenue, Whitley Bay.
Luciano Di Meo said: “To win this accolade two years running is wonderful recognition for the years of hard work, skill and passion that my family has put into making ice cream over the last 100 years.
“It is a fantastic achievement to win against such strong competition and now I hope that our success will continue to help in the regeneration of Whitley Bay by attracting more visitors to sample Britain’s best ice cream.
“I feel the future is looking more optimistic for Whitley Bay.
“There is lottery money coming into the town to fund regeneration and a great desire from local organisations to bring colourful and interesting events to the town.”
The family’s ice cream heritage was started at the turn of the 20th century when Luciano’s great, great grandfather Isidoro Di Meo walked from southern Italy to the north east of England to find his fortune.
He sold ice cream from a barrow and was one of the original hokey-pokey ice cream men who pioneered this novel way of producing and selling ice cream.
Now the family are turning full circle thanks to Luciano’s wife Victoria who has recently commissioned a handcrafted ice cream cart from Italy which re-creates Isidoro’s original ice cream barrow. Victoria is now using the cart to provide a bespoke ice cream wedding service.
Luciano’s father Armando continues to operate an ice cream van in Blyth and his mum, Marianna, has worked in the family business for nearly 50 years.
Luciano, 35, said: “I was taught the secrets of making ice cream when I was just a boy of 8 years old by my grandfather. Now ice cream making is in my blood. It is my passion and my life.
“All my life I have been dedicated to developing the perfect ice cream using the skills and knowledge passed down the generations of my family and now to be crowned Champion of Champions two years running is just wonderful.”
The family were praised by Zelica Carr, Chief Executive Officer of The Ice Cream Alliance. “It is a tremendous achievement to win the Champions title once but to get it two years running is really very special.
“The Di Meo family were up against very strong competition but the judges felt their ice cream was outstanding and their success is well-deserved.
“The ice cream industry continues to flourish and the quality and flavour is increasing every year thanks to the dedication and enthusiasm of ice cream makers like Luciano.”
Luciano Di Meo can be contacted on 0191 252 3814.
Further information on the Ice Cream Alliance can be obtained at www.ice-cream.org