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Cone but not forgotten; GOLDEN CONE AWARDS OUR HUNT FOR SCOTLAND'S TOP ICE CREAM SHOP RETURNS; Our super scoopers look back on their year of living deliciously as the country's coolest cafe.

Byline: Lesley Roberts

Ice cream lovers of Scotlandhere's your chance to go flakey for your favourite. Our Golden Cone Award is back and the search is on for the nation's top scoop.

We have teamed up with family–run Waverley Bakery – Scotland's only producer of cones and wafers – to find an ice cream parlour that has the competition well and truly licked.

So whether your favourite is a tiny seaside shop or a comfy cafe that brings back happy memories, we want to hear about it.

Up for grabs is the Golden Cone, a specially commissioned trophy, and here, we talk to last year's champions, ice cream superstars Visocchi's in Broughty Ferry.

It was like Italy bringing home the World Cup.

Only it wasn't Bologna but Broughty Ferry and it wasn't the World Cup, it was our spectacular Golden Cone.

When ice cream parlour Visocchi's were named the first winner of our Golden Cone trophy, the whole town turned out to celebrate.

Cafe owners the Caira family took the coveted prize back to a rapturous reception in their seaside hometown, where they've served ice cream delights for 60 years.

There was a parade through the streets, with the Golden Cone gleaming in the sun as it was held out the window of the Visocchi's delivery car – an Italian Fiat 500.

The local Vespa owners' club formed a guard of honour as loyal customers got commemorative photo taken with the big prize.

Now the trophy, which has had pride of place on the Visocchi's counter for the past year, is about to be handed back as we launch the search for the Golden Cone winners of 2014.

But the Cairas enjoyed every moment of their reign as champions. Marco Caira, 27, said: "It has been amazing. I still can't believe we won.

"People have been coming to Visocchi's from all over Scotland because we're the Golden Cone winners – and it's not even a seasonal thing. We're welcoming more customers all year round. We knew we were up against cafes that we believe to be ice cream royalty. Even my dad, who has been making ice cream all his life, thought we had absolutely no chance.

"He was putting the entry posters in the bin when I happened to walk in and saw what he was doing. I persuaded him it was worth a go.

"I gave him a Fedora after we won because he said at the start, 'If we win this, I'll eat my hat.' But I haven't made him pay out on the PS100 he bet me that we'd lose."

For the Caira family, who've suffered serious illness, unbearable stress and the threat of closure over the past few years, winning was a long–awaited turnaround in fortune.

Dad Marco Sr, 65, who's a master gelatiere, was left struggling to keep the cafe going after two major heart attacks and being diagnosed with diabetes.

Although just teenagers at the time, sons Marco Jr and Roberto insisted they would take his place at Visocchi's alongside mum Antonia, 49, who did the cooking for the adjoining cafe.

Marco Jr said: "I was 18, and nine months into my first year of a business management course at university, when dad had the heart attacks.

"We knew mum couldn't do it all on her own and that meant that we would have to sell up.

"Mum and dad wanted me to carry on at university but I decided to drop out and run the business.

"Roberto carried on with his studies and went on to get a business degree of his own but he was making ice cream every single day of his studies. And once he got his degree, he joined me full–time."

Combining the traditional Italian skills they learned from their parents with their hi–tech social media expertise, the two brothers turned Visocchi's into an unmissable destination on the east coast. It's a little bit of Napoli just outside Dundee.

Bodybuilder Roberto, now 23, is an ice cream genius, constantly coming up with ideas for different flavours and presentations at their on–site factory. He flies to Italy every year to visit ice cream industry events.

Marco Jr masterminds the direction of the business, while also finding time to be a champion barista and latte artist. He's even managed to resume his studies part–time and will finally graduate this summer.

He said: "I'm just buzzing with new ideas. Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night and have to write ideas on bits of paper so I remember them in the morning."

Antonia remains queen of the kitchen, arriving early to whip up fresh scones for breakfast customers, while Marco Snr is at the cafe every day and enjoys the banter.

It has been a long hard slog for all of them, working from early mornings till late at night.

But Marco Jr said: "I didn't tell my dad we'd won until the Sunday Mail came out with the article announcing us as winners. I put the paper in front of him and he was just overwhelmed.

"As a son, you're always seeking your dad's approval. To see him sitting there with tears of happiness running down his face after he had been through such a miserable time makes everything worthwhile.

"I put a post of that Sunday Mail page on our Facebook site and it got nearly 3000 likes and 300 comments – including one from Lorraine Kelly, who comes here a lot when she's at a Dundee United game.

"Since winning the Golden Cone, we've got nearly 9000 Facebook followers, three times as many as we had before.

"Without the hard work, my mum and dad put in over the years, we wouldn't have any likes on the page. Without customers, we wouldn't have anything. They're the real Golden Cone winners."

Nadia Sweet dreams are made of this

Even though she knows the ice cream industry inside out, Nadia Miller was amazed by the reaction to last year's inaugural Golden Cone Award.

Managing director of the Waverley Bakery, she is Scotland's only cone and wafer maker and the mastermind behind the competition.

She grew up in the business, helping dad Alessandro run ice cream vans that toured tenements in Glasgow's east end.

And now she's one of the industry's leading players, supplying single nougats, oysters, sponges and waffle cones to around 150 cafes across the country as well as hundreds more vans, stands and carts.

But nothing prepared Nadia for the response to the launch of the Golden Cone. She said: "We were completely blown away by the success of the 2013 campaign and how much the industry got behind it.

"We want the 2014 awards to be bigger and better. It's a fabulous and fun way for us to thank our valued customers – the ice cream shop owners all over Scotland – for their loyalty and support. And for anyone who loves the ice cream of their favourite parlour, it's a great way to show them you care."

Don't worry if you to can't go online your favourite – you nominate parlour ice cream can also vote by post. Send to Golden your nomination Innovations Awards, One Central Cone Department, Quay, Glasgow G3 8DA.


It's easy to nominate your favourite cafe. All you have to do is go online today at nominated parlour for an entry form. Make sure you tell us why you think they deserve to become goldenconeawards or simply ask at second winners of our Golden Cone.


ICE COOL Nadia presents cone to Roberto, front, and Marco Jr

SCOOP OF YEAR Antonia and Marco celebrate. Top, Vespa club join party and, right, we reveal winners

UP FOR THE CUP... AND THE CONES The Vespa club join fans of Visocchi's as their Fiat 500 does a lap of honour in Broughty Ferry
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Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Apr 13, 2014
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