Written by Kerrie Alexander
In a humble Childers farmhouse set amongst the region’s rich red soil and cane farms, you will find one of Queensland most famous dessert manufacturers.
There’s no big factory or hundreds of workers that produce the iconic Mammino Gourmet Ice Cream that can be found at about 30 different outlets throughout Queensland.
There’s just husband and wife team, Leo and Helen Ricciardi, and two other workers that produce all the ice cream required, by hand, three days a week at the Luckett’s Rd site, which they sell at the adjacent quaint little red, cream and blue shopfront.
Helen is also the chief events coordinator and, before COVID-19, would travel in the ice cream truck to shows and events all around the state.
“We only have two staff besides Leo and myself, and a few friends who help out selling at events from the ice cream truck,” Helen said.
“We produce about 100 ice creams per batch, all handmade, it’s not machine manufactured.
“It’s all mixed in a big machine mixing bowl and then the cups and containers are filled by hand.”
The unique business has always been a family affair with Leo’s cousin Anthony Mammino and his wife Teena first setting the wheels in motion in 1996.
The two started selling macadamias at a roadside stall until Teena tried her hand at adding the nuts to her grandmother’s old-fashioned ice cream recipe.
The combination was an absolute winner and demand for the one-of-a-kind taste led to the setup of the factory alongside the long-time Mammino family home.
With Anthony’s sad passing in January 2017, Leo and Helen spent a great deal of time helping Teena, learning the recipes, and getting to know the suppliers of all the quality ingredients after purchasing the business in September that same year.
Meanwhile, Teena herself continues to be a tourism advocate and mentor for businesses in the region as President of the Childers Chamber of Commerce and also Bundaberg Region Tourism.
Helen said giving up her job of 18 years at the Bundaberg Regional Council to take on the business was a hard decision, but certainly rewarding with many happy, smiling faces, enjoying the product they create.
“It was a big change of pace for Leo, from being a farmer, and it has it’s pluses and minuses, but I love the fact that we only have happy customers.”
What delights customers, Helen said, is the fact that when you take the first bite you realise that it’s truly old-fashioned ice cream.
It’s also a solid mix, while mass produced ice cream mixtures are fluffed, and aerated.
In the interest of writing this story, of course, I put the Mouthwatering Mango, Sensational Strawberry and Extra Sexy Salted Caramel gourmet ice cream to the test, and Helen’s words couldn’t be truer.
It was a delectable, delicious taste of a cream base and real fruit – a taste I’d never experienced before!
“It’s how ice cream used to be made 100 years ago,” Helen said.
“Our ice cream has a pure cream base, it’s not artificial, we don’t put any artificial colouring or flavouring in there.
“We do five different fruits and it’s all fruit.
“Our mango ice cream is mango, and our strawberry ice cream has real strawberries, and I think that’s what makes it special.
“We only use the finest products, and we don’t skimp to save. We put lots of roast macadamias in our macadamia recipe, which is what we are famous for.”
The only big problem for customers is whether to choose the Marvellous Macadamia blend that the business is famous for, or the five six other macadamia flavours, five fruit flavours, six ‘other’ flavours, two sorbet flavours or the two flavours featuring the famous Bundaberg Rum.
There are also 11 gluten-free choices across the range.
“We get a lot of people from Brisbane that come with lists for their rellies and family, and they buy one litre containers to take back with them … we get that all the time.
“We’re very well supported at events, like caravan and camping shows, and we get a lot of people walk up to the truck and ask for macadamia.
“I say vanilla, ginger, coffee, chocolate, ginger or butterscotch and they just say, aw, then have trouble trying to decide,” she said with a laugh.
“But that’s all good because I just love happy customers.”
Fraser Coast Ice cream lovers can get their hands on a Mammino treat at Fraser Shores IGA and Crazy Joes Pizza in Hervey Bay or SIP Expresso in Maryborough.