As a University of Hawaii graduate with a Ph.D. in physical chemistry and a corporate food background, Dirk studied the Italian art of making gelato at Carpigiani Gelato University in Bologna, Italy. Later, he trained and worked with renowned international maestros and gelato “champions” in Europe.
Dirk started his culinary carrier in his early twenties, working in the restaurant industry to finance his University education. After his Ph.D. he pursued an international corporate career. After working as managing director in the holding for the world largest private food laboratory for many years, it was time for him to start his own retail and wholesale gelateria in Hawaii (IL Gelato Hawaii). Italian gelato has been a passion all his life and he always wanted to have his own business.
His natural science background allows him to bring gelato-making to a new level. Inspired by Hawaii’s renowned chefs Roy Yamaguchi and Alan Wong, Dirk fuses Hawaiian and Asian flavors with traditional European gelato making. Dirk is collaborating with many executive chefs at high-end hotels and restaurants to develop new flavors and textures. His gelato is made from scratch, “all natural”, using local ingredients. His gelateria has been voted Best of Honolulu in the category Ice Cream and Frozen Yogurt in 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016 and been awarded the Hall of Fame Award Best of Honolulu in 2015, 2016. As “Best Gelato” Chef Koeppenkastrop’s gelato has been featured on the title page of the Honolulu Magazine “Best of” edition in 2014.
Chef Koeppenkastrop is an active member of the ACF Honolulu Chapter and has served as Vice Chair, Chair and Past Chair on the board of directors of the Hawaii Restaurant Association.