Gelato King Donato Toce Puts ‘MasterChef Australia’ Cooks to the Test

masterchef australia donato toce

Last week on MasterChef Australia: Secrets and Surprises, we saw Chris Hemsworth’s personal nutritionist, Sergio Perera step into the kitchen as a guest judge, along with Melbourne hospitality royalty Shannon Bennett. This week, our bottom three cooks from the Mystery Box challenge will have to battle it out in a Pressure Test set by first-time guest judge Donato Toce.

Toce will put our hopeful home cooks to the test as he challenges them to replicate his version of the nostalgic Viennetta ice cream cake, the Messina Messinetta.

But who is this chef with a licence to chill? Here’s everything we know about the gelato king and Messina Head Chef, Donato Toce.

Who Is Donato Toce?

The legendary Donato Toce is the spatula behind one of the country’s most celebrated gelato brands, Messina.

Having earned his stripes in the Melbourne hospitality game, Toce moved to Sydney in 2007 to take up the head chef position at the revered A Tavola in Darlinghurst, which is coincidentally located just across the road from the first Messina store.

Every night after close, Toce strutted across the road for a scoop of Messina. It didn’t take long for Toce to become best friends with Nick Palumbo, Messina’s founder.

They collaborated on ideas, and eventually, Toce joined the Messina team in 2008. Toce then took Messina to the next level. In fact, he’s responsible for many of the unique (and sometimes wacky) specials that Messina is now known for. The first flavour he introduced was the Pavlova, and even today, the pavlova flavour remains one of Messina’s most popular flavours.

Can You Buy the Messina Messinetta?

Unfortunately, the answer is no, not right now. The Messina Messinetta is a limited edition treat that’s currently sold out, but you can sign up here to be notified of any re-releases.

Does Donato Toce Own Messina?

Donato Toce is one of Messina’s four co-owners. The company was originally founded by Nick Palumbo back in 2002, and his brother Danny Palumbo came on board as Head of Operations in 2006.

Toce joined the company in 2008 as Chief Creative Chef, and Declan Lee is Messina’s fourth owner. A physio turned DJ, Lee is Messina’s head of Branding and Marketing, as well as being the vibes curator — his much-requested playlists are a crucial part of Messina’s brand strategy.

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