Story and photo by Airman 1st Class Dymekre Allen
86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
Fabio Montebello, known by base locals as “Fabio the gelato man,” is the base ice cream man who travels more than an hour from Worms, Germany, every day to deliver frozen treats to Team Ramstein.
“Driving around seeing the smiles on all the familiar faces is what makes the job worth it,” Montebello said. “The money seems not to matter anymore when you can have so many people you can call your friends.”
Fabio has been churning this handmade treat since he was 19 years old and has been delivering here for more than 16 years.
Fabio said he found his love for ice cream with the help of his father and stepmother, who are also in the business of frozen goods. His stepmother owns an ice cream shop, and his father dedicated more than 30 years of his life to ice cream.
“When I’m 80 I’ll still love this job,” he said. “As long as the installation will let me, I’ll always provide the best gelato.”
Fabio could be considered a base celebrity with the amount of faithful customers he’s obtained over the years.
“He’s just a nice guy. I have a banana split from him almost every day,” said Helen Barkorts, Ramstein High School student. “It’s nice to see him around all the time.”
Among Fabio’s 17 different flavors, the favorite of most customers seems to be the “spaghetti ice.”
Spaghetti ice is a scoop of ice cream of your choice followed by three scoops put through a strainer that stays true to its name. It is then topped with whipped cream, peanuts or coconuts, and a strawberry sauce that Fabio prepares fresh every day.
“It’s creative, you know,” Montebello said. “People hear the name and assume it’s not something you put on ice cream, but when they see it and try it, they can’t have enough.”
It’s his imagination that draws in customers and his never-say-no attitude that keeps them coming back.
“It’s about the people even though I may not be turning a profit,” Montebello said. “Rain, sleet or snow, I’ll be there for my customers.”
Being on base for so long, Fabio has seen many of the base’s Airmen come and go, but he said it’s those lasting relationships that mean the most.
“I’d like to thank everyone for their support and appreciating what I do, because I definitely appreciate and respect what you guys do,” he said.