Vancouver’s ice creameries really stepped up their game this year. Created from locally-sourced ingredients, handcrafted in small batches, and offering unique and delicious flavour combos, these ice cream makers have really cultivated a niche market, expanding the city’s ice cream horizons. Now a new kid on the block, named Say Hello Sweets, is making gourmet ice cream.
We spoke with Say Hello Sweets founder Naomi Arnaut about her ice cream, and how a junior restaurant manager made her way into the ice cream-making business.
Why ice cream?
The allure with ice cream is that the flavour possibilities are absolutely endless and it’s just so nostalgic, you know? I remember that adrenaline rush as a kid hearing the ice cream truck playing its tune.
Growing up, ice cream was a rare treat, an indulgence shared with friends and family. It brings people together and that’s what I want Say Hello Sweets to be all about. That idea of community is where the business name came from too. It’s an invitation to come say hello, meet a new friend, and of course, eat the finest ice cream. I’m at my happiest when I get a chance to share what I’ve created with people. Even on the coldest, rainiest Vancouver nights families and groups of friends will seek out ice cream.
What makes your ice cream stand out?
I’ve been sourcing out the best possible ingredients and I only use whole foods. Cream, egg yolks, cane sugar and sea salt form the base. Coconut or cashew milk is used for the plant-based alternatives. I make small batches by hand, made-to-order, rather than keep stock sitting in freezers. Many of my recipes include ingredients that my partner and I grew on our roof top garden right here in the city.
What flavours does Say Hello Sweets offer?
I’m always coming up with new flavours. I’m currently perfecting a plant-based coconut, lemon and saffron recipe. I have mainstays too, which include honey black sesame, maple rhubarb, cereal milk, twisted mint chocolate chunk, sea salt with caramel ribbons, strawberry basil, Tahitian vanilla, and chocolate chili.
What is your day job?
I work full-time in a junior management position for Burgoo Bistro. It’s a very supportive company to work for and I’ve learned so much about what it takes to build a successful restaurant and keep it successful in this city. Owning a restaurant in Vancouver is a daunting task with a high failure rate. Burgoo has that recipe down. I feel lucky to be a part of such a fantastic team.
How did making ice cream become a part of your life?
It was accidental. My dog went into emergency surgery this past spring and I had to finance the bill — at a very high interest rate. I knew I couldn’t afford the payments but I love my dog and would do absolutely anything for her. It was so hot this summer so I decided I’d attempt to make ice cream and host a tasting for friends and family to fundraise to off-set the debt. I’d never made ice cream before but I completely fell in love with the process, and thankfully, after some trial and error the recipes turned out to be really delicious. My friends, family and co-workers started placing orders regularly. The vet bills literally got paid one pint of ice cream at a time.
What is the next step for Say Hello Sweets? And where can people find your ice cream?
The next step is getting Say Hello Sweets mobile. I purchased a 1983 Grumman Kurbmaster and I plan to transform it into an ice cream and coffee food truck. It’s just a blank slate at the moment and it needs a new engine but it’s a start! And this is where I need a little help from all those ice cream lovers out there. With the talents of some close friends I was able to make a short campaign video to share where Say Hello Sweets started and all the places I hope to take it in the near future.
Currently, ice cream is made-to-order and pints are available by donation. I’m just in the beginning stages and so excited to grow and be able to share my creations with a wider audience. The goal is to be on the streets, at festivals and catering private events by summer, 2016.
You can support Say Hello Sweets through Arnaut’s Indiegogo campaign, which will help get the independently-owned Say Hello Sweets truck on the road.