MOUNT KISCO, N.Y. — Carla Gambescia, owner of Via Vanti!, the highest Zagat-rated restaurant in Mount Kisco, is using her past as a Girl Scout to inspire a whole new generation of scouts.
In the kitchen of her Italian restaurant and gelateria, the chef and entrepreneur has come up with five flavors of Girl Scout cookie-inspired gelato as well as a "Sweet Rewards" program, an incentive for Mount Kisco and Bedford-area scouts to release their inner cookie sales mogul.
The Girl Scout gelato benefit will run from April 21 until the end of May and feature flavors inspired by favorites like Thin Mints, a chocolate mint flavor, Samoas, which has chocolate, coconut and caramel, Tagalongs, peanut butter caramel chip, and Trefoils, a shortbread cookie batter flavor.
Via Vanti! also created a non-dairy sorbetto based on the Girl Scouts’ new lemon-flavored Savannah Smiles cookie, which the organization cooked up to celebrate its 100th anniversary this year.
“Sometimes when people make flavors they just take a vanilla base and chop up the cookies and stick them into the flavor,” said Gambescia, who lives in Chappaqua. "What we’ve done, which I think is a little different, is that we’ve created flavors that really taste like the cookie.”
Along with local Girl Scouts cookie sales, Gambescia’s new gelato flavors are also helping to raise money for area troops. A dollar for every pint sold will go to Girl Scouts Heart of the Hudson, a non-profit that serves troops in seven counties.
“What Via Vanti! has initiated here is just wonderful,” said Octavia Ford, director of programs for Girl Scouts Heart of the Hudson. “Carla herself could serve as a role model for any of our girls.”
Gambescia, who achieved success in the world of business as an advertising executive and then as a marketing consultant for Fortune 500 companies, showed ambition as a Girl Scout herself.
“I earned a lot of badges and I loved selling cookies and I think that’s where I got my ideas about being an entrepreneur,” Gambescia said, who opened Via Vanti! four years ago, fulfilling a long-held dream.
Scouts from Mount Kisco troops and troops in the surrounding areas of Chappaqua, Bedford/Byram Hills, Pleasantville, Briarcliff and Katonah-Lewisboro, are eligible to participate in the restaurant's Sweet Rewards contest. Any scout who sells 80 or more boxes of cookies earns a free pint of gelato, said Gambescia.
The scout who sells the highest number of boxes overall will earn free gelato for a year and a party at Via Vanti! for her troop. Gambescia said she is hoping to make the cookie benefit a yearly event.