All photos by Visit Corpus Christi
Chef Gail Huesmann (left) and Chef Vita Jerrin enjoy the fruits of their labor at A La Mode Gelateria on Padre Island
Did you hear about the Corpus Christi gelato shop that was named one of the “10 Best Texas Ice Cream Shops” in the state? Well, ever since Chefs Vita Jerrin and Gail Huesmann opened up A La Mode Gelateria on Padre Island in spring, 2016, Texas newspapers, magazines and blogs have been a-buzz about the local gals winning culinary competitions and making news all over.
Aside from the official accolades, the chefs and their rich, velvety gelato creations have been whipping up rave reviews from locals and visitors alike. No wonder! The small-batch goodies range from crazy candy concoctions like Ferrero Rocher and SweetTarts, to gastro-nom-nom delights like Texas Fredericksburg peach and churro. They also serve a mean menu of crepes, waffles and paninis.
Visit Corpus Christi wanted to know more:
1. How Did You Meet and Decide to Come to Corpus Christi?
The innovative flavors at A La Mode Gelateria are frequently changed out to make room for new ones
Chef Vita: We met in Chicago over a decade ago. I was a single mom. I left an office job to enroll at Le Cordon Bleu. Of all the chef instructors, Chef Gail taught me how to balance flavors – sweet, salty, spicy, bitter, umami.
Chef Gail: Vita is a natural chef. We became business partners. I came to Texas to take care of my folks but had no intention of staying. We both fell for the charm of Padre Island and felt the area could use some good gelato.
2. How Do You Invent Your Flavors? Do You Collaborate or Bicker?
Chef Vita shows off one of the shop’s signature desserts, the Brownie Bomb!
Chef Gail: Our personalities are very different, but we agree on many things. When people eat, they're not reliving memories of white linen and a whole goose at a restaurant. They're going back to happy moments in life. You can take somebody back with a smell, a flavor or a texture – like peanut butter & jelly cheesecake transporting you to opening up your lunchbox in elementary school.
Chef Vita: Our personalities are yin and yang. We have similar goals but different ways of getting there. Gail has a vast knowledge of history. Also, she’s very busy as the executive chef at Black Marlin Bar & Grill in Port Aransas, so I am at the shop more often, refreshing the case with new flavors.
3. What Flavors Have You Fought About? Who Won?
Chef Gail: The first time I made Cherry Fudge Almond, Vita suggested Fig Almond, and I said, "Fig, no!" [laughter] But she grew up in a Sicilian family – they ate figs all the time! I tried her version of the flavor, and it is really good.
Chef Vita: Gail made a Root Beer Float flavor. That's very American. I leave that for her to make. That's her palate, her flavor, her memory. And it's a huge seller.
4. In Which Cooking Shows and Competitions Have You Appeared?
Chef Gail and Chef Vita pose for a pic with the Corpus Christi Caller-Times’ Natalia Contreras
Chef Vita: I was on Chef Wanted With Anne Burrell in 2013. Cooks vs. Cons, Food Network, episode “Donut Derby.”
Chef Gail: Cutthroat Kitchen, “To Kale a Mockingbird.” We both competed at the World Food Championships in Orange Beach, Alabama. We both placed in the Top 10, so that automatically qualifies us to go back this year.
5. How Does Island Living Inspire You?
Chef Vita: I keep busy, so I don't usually get to be a tourist. When I do get down-time, I like to step out onto the sand, sit at the beach, take in the water and look out as far as the eye can see. It’s so relaxing.
Chef Gail: We were in Seafood Wars at the Texas State Aquarium on North Beach and have an annual membership. I can’t wait to see the new Caribbean addition! Honestly, everyday, there is a free show on the island, just watching the sunrise and the sunset or the full moon or a storm rolling in over the water. Those are things that money can’t buy. Then you can spend that money on gelato!
Can’t wait to try A La Mode’s gelato? We don’t blame you. What are you waiting for? There’s a cone or a bowl with your name on it. Book your trip to Corpus Christi today.