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Title for "World's Best Gelato" could belong in Texas

Where Americans have ice cream, Italians are very particular and proud about their gelato.

A Texas shopowner hopes to stun Europe and the world at a competition next week.

Gelato is ice cream's Italian cousin.

It has less fat, less air, and is served just a bit softer than its frosty counterparts.

Like ice cream, not all gelato is created equal.

After the September Gelato World Tour Competition in Rimini, Italy, one gelato-maker will claim the title of world's best.

Among 24 global gelato artisans, Matthew "Teo" Lee will be among North America's representatives, meaning the world's best gelato could soon hail from Texas.

"They immediately start thinking of the Marlboro man and Clint Eastwood, and all these different things, and barbeque, and not gelato, and then they start talking to you, and they realize that you know food", says Lee.

When Lee started making gelato at his Austin shop 12 years ago, the city didn't have the thriving food scene it does today.

His business has grown alongside the culinary landscape.

Lee says, "Austin is becoming a big food city. A lot of people like it, and it's actually a part probably on some the cutting edge some of a lot of food that is being served in restaurants, and in what we're doing."

On a visit to northern Virginia, he showed us how to craft the flavor that won him a spot in Italy, called "Nuts".

Lee says. "peanut butter. Adults love it, and kids love it. Nutella. Adults love it, and kids love it. Not everybody, but a lot of people, and so that's why we did the peanut butter Nutella and that was a big hit."

Working in his home kitchen was good practice for Lee ahead of the competition.

Italians don't have a taste for peanut butter, so he'll work from a new pecan and whiskey recipe.

He'll also have to use different equipment, and even a different composition of ingredients, than in his Texas shop.

Lee explains, "the fat content of their milk and their cream is less, so we have 40% of butter fat in our whipping cream, and they have 35%. So, when you add the sugars, the cream and the milk, and all of these different total solids you have to balance it."

Lee hopes he's calculating an equation that adds up to a gelato that's deemed the world's best.