There is only one real way to make gelato and that is the old fashioned way, which is what entrepreneur Phillipp Hardegger has set out to do.

He has history on his side: His great grandfather was a gelato maker in Florence in the 1960s but the art of making the Italian treat was not carried on in the family after the store closed and his family moved to Switzerland.

But Swiss-born Mr Hardegger, 43, had a dream to revive the family tradition and started Gelateria Italia, which now has 11 outlets across the island, seven of which are franchised.

Producing gelato as the Italians do brings its share of challenges.

It means only the freshest, natural ingredients can be used so no preservatives or flavourings to enhance the appearance or taste.

Production costs are also much higher compared with ice cream makers, which substitute natural ingredients with preservatives to keep the product affordable.

Even the machines, disposal equipment and spoons are imported from Italy.

"My commitment is to make gelato like in the old days. Many people don't do it because it's too expensive," he says.

Before Mr Hardegger was busy concocting new gelato flavours, he was a successful ceramics producer in Vietnam. Eager to fulfill his long-time dream, he sold his firm.

He had initially wanted to sell gelato in Adelaide, where he already owned a home.

However, tightened immigration rules in 2010 meant that his visa could not be issued, leaving the future of his business uncertain.

It was during a chance meeting with a friend in Singapore that he was convinced to set up shop here instead.

"I had no Plan B, but he suggested that I start my business in Singapore. It's a good market, good weather, people have money," he recounted. "My wife and I thought, 'What did we have to lose?"

The firm now makes 15 to 30 tonnes of gelato a month at a 250 sq m production facility in Jalan Tepong, and getting the taste just right requires considerable skill.

Take vanilla gelato. Only Tahitian vanilla beans and fresh French cream are used. Each box of vanilla beans costs $100, said Mr Hardegger.

About 1.7 litres of Baileys liquor goes into a batch of Baileys gelato while 1.2 kg of Valrhona chocolate is used for the chocolate-flavoured variety.

After opening his first shop in 2011, the idea of expansion soon took hold.

Mr Hardegger said he always envisioned the business becoming "a really big chain".

He cites the McDonald's success story as his inspiration, as he was fascinated by how it could be successful in every country it had stores in.

"For 15 years, I was always dreaming about doing something that you can be so good at, you can scale it up to so many places."

That was why he adopted the franchising business model about a year ago.

He stands by the mantra: "To be successful as a franchisor is to make a franchisee successful."

Mr Hardegger sees each franchisee through the entire process of setting up a store - from finding a contractor, looking for a location and even preparing hiring contracts. All are covered in the one-time franchise fee.

This model has worked well for the business, with seven franchisees and at least 11 new stores scheduled to open here this year. His first franchisee opened her shop in Ion Orchard.

"I like to say we are a service provider," says Mr Hardegger. "You don't need to know anything, you just search for the location to open your store, and from then on you will open a perfect Gelateria Italia store. We know how to do that, and it's our job."

His ultimate goal is to open 1,000 stores in the world but believes his team is still not ready for it. Although he has received offers to buy the business concept under a different brand, he has rejected them.

"We don't do this kind of business," he maintains. "When we are ready, we will sell it to you."