Deep freeze as Chin Chin ice-cream delivered through the post
- Credit: Archant
Regent’s Park couple Ahrash Akbari Kalhur and Nyisha Weber are now posting out their nitro-frozen desserts to fans who can’t come to their Camden Town parlour
CHIN CHIN ice cream should have celebrated its 10th birthday with a party at its first bricks and mortar parlour in Camden Market.
But instead, the Regent’s Park husband and wife team behind the sweet treat have launched the country’s first ice cream in the post.
Ahrash Akbari Kalhur and Nyisha Weber, who use liquid nitrogen to make their ice-cream said: “We’d planned a big celebration this summer to mark our 10th birthday, but with many of our fans not knowing when they’ll next be able to venture into London, we wanted to find a way to deliver the ice-cream direct to their homes.”
Today celebrity customers include Angelina Jolie, Jude Law and Mila Kunis, but back in 2010, they say they were “very green”.
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“We had all these art school conceptions of doing something honest and making ice cream by hand. Prior to this nitro ice cream had been the preserve of Michelin starred restaurants so it seemed a bit lefty to make it available for the masses and where better than Camden market? We convinced Will (whose dad started Camden Market in the 70’s) to let us take the shop downstairs. It had no roof, a toilet in the middle of the store and a mural of a flying condom on the floor, but it was on the corner so ‘when we have queues’ I thought, it could wrap around nicely.”
Two weeks after opening, Harrods got in touch and asked them to shut the Camden store and relocate.
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“They couldn’t understand why we had chosen the badlands of Camden to set up shop and were even more stunned when we said ‘thanks but no thanks’. We are indie kids and like our little Camden ice cream lab.”
There followed a second site in Soho, and a Dessert Bar in Shoreditch.
The couple ascribe their success to “no compromise, no cutting corners on ingredients, and years of graft.”
“Its important to evolve, it gets boring for everyone if you don’t rip it all up occasionally.” And they credit “great landlord support” and the furlough scheme for helping them through the last three months.
“Yes we’ve lost money but when people are losing loved ones its absurd to complain. We took a step back, worked on new products and found a greater appreciation of the position we are in. It’s hard to get too down for ice creamers - we are hardened by bleak winters.”
Now there is the postal ice-cream plan. After experimenting with ways to deliver dessert around the UK, they found their freezing technique could keep the ice-cream frozen for up to 32 hours.
“The whole landscape of retail has changed and the long-term impact of the pandemic will change shopping habits forever, so it became clear we had to adapt fast to generate some income to pay fixed costs. The day after lockdown we launched our hot chocolate starter kit and sent chin chin takeaway cups so our loyal customers could re-create the experience at home. We have all these diehard customers around the UK who are a) bored and b) need something to cheer them up and obviously can’t get to us. We’ve always had that DIY ethos so we just fight on.”
Customers can order a selection box of three seasonally changing flavours at £19.95 including postage.
The first is Burnt Butter Caramel, Tonka Bean & Childhood Strawberry Milk.
They can also order toppings such as cinnamon toast or rich truffle crumble to create a sundae. Future plans include a monthly subscription service with the chance to try new flavours, and reopening Chin Chin Labs Camden on Saturday with Perspex screens, PPE for staff and a one way social distanced flow.