A WHITLEY Bay family have proved to be the cream of the crop after scooping a prestigious national award.
The Di Meo family are hoping to put the seaside town back on the holiday map after being judged the best in Britain and Ireland for their ice cream.
They have been making ice cream for more than 100 years, with their knowledge and skills finally paying off after judges at the National Ice Cream Competition voted their vanilla ice cream as the best of the best.
And the Di Meo family, who run Di Meo Delaval ice cream parlour and pizzeria in Marine Avenue, Whitley Bay, are hoping their victory in the competition – run by The Ice Cream Alliance – will give the town a major boost.
Luciano Di Meo said: “To win this accolade 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 help in the regeneration of Whitley Bay by attracting more visitors to sample ice cream of the highest quality.”
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 north east England to find his fortune.
He sold ice cream from a barrow and through the generations the family have built up a successful business, running a shop in Seaton Delaval before moving to Whitley Bay in 2001.
Luciano’s father Armando still runs an ice cream van in Blyth, trading as Mr Eddie, while his mum Marianna has worked in the family business for nearly 50 years.
Armando and Marianna met at an ice cream alliance dinner dance in 1970 and married shortly afterwards.
Luciano, 34, said: “I was taught the secrets of making ice cream when I was just an eight-year-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 I have realised my dream. It is fantastic.”
He added: “I would also like to take this opportunity to thank my wife, Victoria, for being there and supporting me and it’s not true that I love ice cream more than her, it’s more like they are on a par.”
Zelica Carr, chief executive of The Ice Cream Alliance, said: “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 the Di Meo family.”