Jim Demotses said goodbye to a life in law to pursue a more palatable dream.
Some might call the notion of leaving a successful career to open a new business crazy. Luckily for gelato lovers in North Andover, resident Jim Demotses calls it “pazzo.”
Italian for “crazy,” Pazzo Gelato Cafe celebrated its grand opening this past Mother’s Day weekend as the city’s newest authentic gelateria—and Demotses’s dream come true.
Morphing his culinary arts hobby into this full-time business, the Peabody lawyer traded in a desk for a gelato counter and Montblancs for scoops. Surrounded by a colorful mural, reclaimed wood tables, and a state-of-the-art gelato machine imported from Italy, he couldn’t be happier.
“People who know me know that I’ve always had a food bug,” he explains. “I don’t think anybody was that surprised when I switched career paths. Deep down, I never felt practicing law was my true calling.”
Channeling his Greek heritage and his mother’s sweet tooth and passion for making dessert, Demotses began his journey. Still working in law, he enrolled in an intensive night program at The Cambridge School of Culinary Arts, as well as studies at the Gelato and Pastry Institute of America in Long Island, NY. He also enrolled in an immersion program at Carpigiani Gelato University in North Carolina.
Then came the clean break. Now Demotses is in a world of made-from-scratch Italian desserts—think handcrafted gelato in chocolate hazelnut biscotti and wild Amarena cherry (Demotses’s favorite) and its dairy-free cousin, sorbetto, in pineapple mango and cantaloupe. There are espresso drinks and baked goods galore, like artisanal caramel apple bread and mudslide cookies. Then, there are the hot-pressed panini, such as beef Florentine and chicken Milanese.
“I truly hope everyone who visits us sees how crazy and passionate I am about food, family, and the community,” he says. His love for the Greater Merrimack Valley community is clear, whether it’s employing talented local vocational students for assistance in making his gelato or providing a stage for acoustic performances by local musicians.
The café’s shopping list is also a Who’s Who of local farmers and suppliers. Demotses receives dairy products from Shaw Farm Dairy of Dracut, imported Italian meats and cheeses from CASA Foods of Middleton, pastries from Iggy’s Bread in Cambridge, and breads and rolls from Jessica’s Brick Oven in North Andover. Even their footprint is a step in the right direction with use of Black Earth Hauler of Gloucester and Brick Ends Farm of South Hamilton for composting.
And with all that sweet stuff, Demotses is happily involved every step of the way. “There’s so much to gelato—flavor, texture, how it causes your palate to react. You have to sample everything. I use my family and friends as taste testers,” he says. “They’re all blaming me for their weight gain.”
Extra calories aside, there are smiles all around. “There’s no greater feeling than to create food and watch others enjoy it,” Demotses says. facebook.com/pazzogelatocafe —Cheryl Fenton