Common Ground: The Creamery

Monday, 4 November, 2013
Interview by Mel Winter

You are a relatively new company. How did you get started? What is your romantic ice cream story? 

Kate studied as a chef, but spent her time after studying working as a journalist and then for the Sustainability Institute in Stellenbosch. Kate knew she wanted her own business, and wanted to continue the relationships she'd built with many local, sustainable farmers. After making ice cream at home for a while for friends and family, and spotting a gap in the market, The Creamery was born.

The Cream Team!

How many hours of your average day are spent making ice Cream? You supply a lot of outlets right now!

We currently have 3 full time employees in our kitchen at the moment, who churn Monday to Friday from 9 - 5. It's often time-consuming as we don't use any flavourants or syrups - if we're making strawberry ice cream, it means we're all in the kitchen chopping! We supply 4 restaurants and a few delis, the rest we sell directly to the public through our weekly market stalls, the cafe and events like weddings or the Design Indaba.

Tell us a little about your Ice Cream Club?

Members of our ice cream club sign up for 3 or 6 months, and every month we send out 3 tubs of our very newest or most special flavours. It keeps us on our toes in terms of constantly developing new flavours, and having a close network of loyal, feedbacking customers is also super helpful!

Coffee must be a priority looking at your stunning espresso machine, can you tell us about how you ventured into coffee? Tell us about your partnership with Rosetta? We love Jono, Rob and Ollie!

We started our relationship with Rosetta Roastery when we were looking for a coffee supplier for our ice cream. We knew locally-grown wasn't an option for the coffee, so we instead looked for a local micro-roastery that we respected - in terms of coffee and the way they run their business. We always use the best ingredients, and coffee was no exception - whether it's going into the ice cream or becoming a flat white. We couldn't have made a better decision than to collaborate with Rob and Jono, and they have been instrumental in making the transition from only making ice cream to a fully-fledged, coffee-serving dessert cafe! They have helped us with everything from sourcing the refurbished machine, to ongoing barista training. It's a whole new aspect of the business for us, and we couldn't be doing it at the standard we are, without them.

The new dessert cafe in Newlands. It's a must-visit in CT!

Has there ever been a flavour that you really wanted to work but just didn't work out?

When summer is over and our fruit supply starts petering out, we have to explore seasonality in a different way. Often that means creating flavours that feel cosy and winter-appropriate. We love playing with spices, like our Rooibos Chai flavour or Hot Cross Bun flavour, and we'd seen a few US based ice cream companies experiment with coriander seed. Much to our disappointment we found coriander seed only has one association in South Africa - biltong! We even tried adding a roast peach swirl, but alas it only resulted in biltong and blatjang tasting ice cream!

What is your favourite flavour today? (I know it must change constantly)

It does change all the time, and I must admit it is often the newest flavour! After two years we finally found a local pistachio farmer, and it's definitely set to become an all-time favourite. We recently developed and Black Tea & Kumquat flavour, which really blew us away, and to our surprise was also a bit of a fan favourite. And there's little that can beat the first strawberry ice cream of summer...

Here are just a few of the flavours they've tried and tested:

What was the MasterChef experience like? We have been lucky enough to get to know Leandri a little, because of her interest in coffee. What was it like having an entire film crew in your ice cream factory?

It was totally surreal, but the Masterchef crew were so lovely and professional that we got comfortable pretty quickly! We've been overwhelmed by the support and interest that comes with being part of the Masterchef experience.

I really love the page on your website about all your different local suppliers. A really amazing team. The difficult question is, is this sustainable? In the coffee industry, roasters are becoming more transparent with how and where they get their beans from but this does mean hiking the price. Are South Africans ready for this?

I think South Africans are definitely ready! People care more and more about the stories behind their food, and knowing that it comes from an ethical source. It's always going to mean a higher-price tag than the mass-produced stuff, but people are starting to see the value of paying a bit more for a significantly better quality product. I think a lot of people are very interested in supporting the 'little guys' and their suppliers, we feel so lucky to be part of this community!

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