Chef Paul Kim and Ken Lo, Founders, Ice & Vice
Ice & Vice (www.iceandvice.com/), an experimental ice cream pop-up shop based in Brooklyn (and a 2014 Vendy winner) , is all about handcrafted ice cream, sorbet and frozen yogurt made in small, customized batches. Chef Paul Kim, one of the founders, is a savory chef who has worked in the food industry for a number of years. He was trained at Le Cordon Bleu. Ken Lo, on the other hand, works in finance and was never formally trained. Both attended the Ice Cream Short Course at Penn State, and are huge food lovers.
“We got into this because ice cream making was a hobby,” explained Ken. “We wanted to pursue something on our own outside of our normal jobs. We both love ice cream, and we thought, ‘why not?’ We really wanted to develop an ice cream scene similar to the West Coast, so we decided to take on this challenge.”
The result is edgy, out of the box flavors like toasted milk ice cream swirled with sea salt chocolate ganache, nilgiri tea ice cream swirled with lemon charcoal caramel, green apple buttermilk, white chocolate, and shiso leaf, and Vietnamese coffee ice cream with doughnut truffle (go here for more: http://iceandvice.com/flavors/).
Their inspiration for distinctive pairings comes from a number of things -- an ingredient, a life experience, or a concept. “When we get inspired by an experience or concept, we try to capture that through flavor and imagine what it would taste like. For example, we may be inspired by a trip to Costa Rica, or heartbreak. It usually draws us to an ingredient, and we build a flavor organically from there,” explained Ken.
Playing with ingredients and flavors is pretty much the modus operandi of their business. “We play with ingredients and flavors a lot,” said Ken. “We tend to get bored with our flavors, so we like to experiment. We think that helps in terms of developing a fresh perspective.
“When we're coming up with new flavors, we like to observe the latest food trends, and study flavor pairings. Some work, some don't. There are a lot of flavors that we experiment with that don't make it to market. It's all part of the process, and that's what makes what we do so fun.”
One of their favorite ingredients to work with is salt. “It doesn't sound very magical, but it can add a lot of depth to a flavor,” said Paul. “Sure there's table and kosher salt, but the salt world is so much bigger than that. You can really change the flavor of something depending on the type of salt that you use, for example Himalayan sea salt or fleur de sel.”
A popular pairing is black lava sea salt with Mexican vanilla for their vanilla ice cream. “It really adds a savory element to Mexican vanilla,” said Ken. “Mexican vanilla already has a subtle cinnamon quality, and the smokiness of the black lava sea salt really builds on that.”
Flavors change regularly. The two say usually come up with new flavors once or twice a month and actually have a list of flavors that are on a waiting list to be created.
And there are more plans in the works: The company’s first brick and mortar, which is slated to open early this summer on New York’s Lower East Side (check social media for announcements) along with constant surprises on where the next pop-up will be.
“Keeping mobile really helps us connect to customers in different neighborhoods, who wouldn't otherwise travel to other areas,” said Ken. “It can be a hassle at times because of the cost, and also the weather, but there's a certain satisfaction in hearing people appreciate us coming to their neighborhood and offering a high-quality ice cream product.”
The two say their biggest obstacle at the moment is finances. As a small business, they’re constantly worried about making rent for the day, week, and month. “With expensive dairy prices, and the cost of our ingredients, it can be a huge challenge,” said Ken. “Sometimes we feel like our small budget hinders our creative process because the ingredients we like to use, or want to use, can be quite costly. So really, we come up with new flavors, and try to balance that.”