The new ice cream age
Dutch Master Pastry Chef and SVH Master Ice Cream Maker Hidde de Brabander may just have the coolest job in the world: he runs the Lentiz Onderwijsgroep's Ice Cream Centre, located at the Food Innovation Academy in Vlaardingen, the Netherlands. This is the place where his expertise as a master ice cream maker is put to good use every day. The perfect person for an interview about trends in the industry.
Pastry chefs are artists too
“I have been a pastry chef for 24 years now. As a child, I actually wanted to be an artist, but where do you start, right? My neighbour from across the street was a pastry chef and one day he said to me: Pastry chefs are artists too, you know, the difference is they work with sugar and chocolate. These words inspired me to go to bakery school. After my training, I worked in several businesses, including three-star restaurants. After a while I set up my own business - Dreams of Magnolia - delivering creations for the catering industry and major events. In the meantime, I also started exploring other activities, including presentations and workshops, which I ended up finding much more fun. There is more creativity in it, more inspiration, more depth. My interest in ice cream also kept popping up, so in 2019 I decided to go for the title of SVH Master Ice Cream Maker, which is the highest professional degree in the field of ice cream making.”
“My ambition is to broaden the scope of ice cream making. A lot of ice cream makers just make ice cream, that's it. I think it’s more interesting and more attractive if you put some thought in it and do more with the existing basis. To refine it even more.
When I go out to eat, I really want to taste the chef's signature. This is what I want to pass on: show the ice cream maker you are.
“Reducing sugar content is hot and trendy today. A lot of sugar is still used as a standard, but it should be accurately dosed. Veganism is another trend, and you can be sure that both are here to stay. Two extremely interesting themes when it comes to preparing ice cream. A real challenge, especially taste-wise. How do you deal with that? Don't approach your customers by saying: this is real, real ice cream. No, it is not! It is not ice cream if you don't use animal fat. It is something else, but that does not make it any less delicious or interesting. Try to find your strengths and be creative in that area. For example, with a super nice almond-based sorbet.
Spice flavours are also becoming more popular, for example chai and cardamom. Very interesting. Another big trend that is a bit less appealing to me personally is candy bars: Oreo, Twix, things like that.
Create extra margin
“Think of grab-and-go concepts, for example. Appealing items on display in your shop that people buy on impulse. In Paris, they are very good at it. There I see people eating so many things while on the go, including ice cream cups, the so-called ‘pints’, which offer quite some nice options in terms of taste and margin. Ice cream bars are another opportunity.”
“The growth is in the content, in refining what already exists. And that goes for any concept. How can you improve it? Are you going to experiment with your milk mix? Can you give your vanilla ice cream a twist by smoking your vanilla?
Ice cream makers still often suffer from some kind of resigned attitude.
You also have to 'educate' your customers. You have to boost your sales by letting people try new things. In the Netherlands, I often hear professionals say: customers won't buy that from me. That is nonsense. You have to tell customers: This is something new, try it.”
Moment of revolution
“The main question at this time is: how are we going to survive in the coming period, now that personnel is so scarce and raw materials are becoming so expensive? These are challenges that you would rather not have to face. On the other hand, I also find it interesting.
These are moments of evolution, or rather moments of revolution. I think that a lot is happening in these challenging times and that it may even lead to very interesting things.”