Tommy Zarlengo

Tommy Zarlengo

Zarlengo’s Inc.

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“I love working with my family. And now that I’m a dad myself, it means even more.”

When Chicago Heights resident Tommy Zarlengo graduated with his degree in Culinary Arts from Robert Morris University in Orland Park, he didn’t know that he would eventually find himself back in Chicago Heights, working in the industry he loved best, with the people he loved most: his family. Now, an integral part of Zarlengo’s Inc., producers of Italian ice, gelato and other delicious novelties, Tommy returned to his alma mater to participate in the annual RMU Institute of Culinary Arts Annual Symposium. This year’s theme was “Innovation.”

Zarlengo’s Inc.’s ice cream cart was one of the most popular booths at the Expo, a key part of the annual symposium that features products and services from culinary companies and individuals around the Chicago area. RMU culinary students and alumni formed a long line to sample Zarlengo’s gelato – strawberry and lemon ricotta. “The flavors taste like spring and summer to me,” Tommy said, as he scooped out gelato on the mini cones.

Never one to hold back, Tommy has explored a number of different career routes, but they have mainly focused on food. After RMU, he completed a pastry program and became very interested in gardening, particularly vegetables and herbs. “I have a tendency to put a lot on my plate,” he said, adding that he also works different events in the restaurant field, getting as much experience as he can. “But I love working with my family. And now that I’m a dad myself, it means even more.” In addition to his parents Tom and Mary Lou, he works with brother Todd (“He’s the numbers guy,” adds Tommy) and sister Allison.

The Marian Catholic graduate also enjoys experimenting with different flavors of gelato in the family business. “Kids have to like it,” he continued. “They are the harshest critics. But if you can get them hooked on delicious, good food, it makes all the difference.”

It was obvious Tommy enjoyed reconnecting with former classmates and instructors from Robert Morris at the Culinary Symposium. In sharing his family’s outstanding gelato, he also had the opportunity to share his story. The culinary field is big, broad, creative and imaginative. You never know where it may take you – even if it is right back home.

Zarlengo’s Italian Ice is a featured item during White Sox games at Cellular Field.