Food Trucks continue to appear on city street corners and regional fairs and food shows, attracting consumers who have come to admire and enjoy their individuality and originality. Symrise decided to take a close look at some of the most successful and novel food trucks in the company’s ongoing exploration of the latest food and beverage industry trends. Whether they are offering unusual ethnic fare or their individual interpretations of traditional American favorites, food trucks, carts and stands combine the advantages of delicious and distinctive tasting food, not generally available from traditional venues.
What’s with the architecturally inspired theme? That’s just one of the answers what Emmanuel Laroche, Vice President, Marketing & Consumer Insights, Symrise North America, Global Marketing Leader, and his team ventured to uncover in an interview with Natasha Case, co-founder of Coolhaus™ Architecturally-Inspired Gourmet Ice Cream.
Symrise: When we sampled your offerings the other day, we loved everything, especially your white cheddar popcorn and its natural tasting corn – just one of the very interesting taste experiences we enjoyed. For starters, we are curious to know when you started Coolhaus and what you were doing before that; principally to understand what made you change direction.
Natasha: We began in 2009. Before that, I was in architecture and design and I was finding that it was too removed from what I had thought it would be. Freda came from the real estate business. It seemed to me that as an architect I was in a bubble when it came to reaching people. It occurred to me that food would be a good way of getting people to talk about architecture and design – a new medium to use to reach them. More and more, I recognized that when there was food on the table, people listened – even people in business. We did edible models in schools – and it all really resonated when I connected architecture with food – it became the concept of Farchitecture with an early manifestation in making cookies and baked goods. It was really a fine way to get started during a period of recession and it was a way of bringing a ‘lighter’ side to architecture. It developed into my introducing my brand, as seen in our logo and dominant on our website.
S: Where have you found inspiration for the flavors you create – like the whiskey and Lucky Charm flavors?
N: First of all, we pay attention to food trends, not reacting to them but understanding what’s coming down from them. Secondly, we’re responsive to what our customers are looking for in custom flavors or for a media campaign, whatever it is that they want. I am also inspired when I am out for dinner. I ask myself how this savory will work in a sweet – that’s how we come up with a concept such as ginger cookie with wasabi ice cream.
S: You mention food trends, what do you think is coming next?
N: I think sour tastes can be further explored and I think there is playfulness between high brow and low brow cuisine – such as taking foods that are not considered ‘in’ or gourmet and repositioning them with better ingredients. Then there are the ‘boozy’ flavors; more can be done by incorporating beer and dark spirits into ice creams. We are interested in smoky flavors and in a lot of Asian flavors like yuzu. Next season I’ll be doing a Chinese sausage flavor which I am really excited about.
S: Have you done any Hispanic type flavors?
N: Oh, yes, for example, we have done spicy pineapple sorbet and a chocolate chipotle.
S: Have you received any awards such as the Vendy award?
N: We were finalists one year and then recognized as ‘best ice cream’ from Rachael Ray. We also won awards for our packaging; and won at the Fancy Food Show and at the Expo as well. We have gotten a lot of accolades and that’s great.
S: Can you tell me where the name “Coolhous” originated?
N: It is kind of a triple entendre. It is a play on the name of the famous Dutch architect and theorist, Rem Koolhaas, one of my favorite architects. It also borrows from Bauhaus, an influential modernist design movement of the 1920s and the 1930s. And, as you eat one of our ice cream sandwiches, it is like biting into a tiny cool house.
S: How do you see your business evolving over the next several years?
N: Well, you know we started out on our hometown streets in Los Angeles with a beat up postal van and ventured into the world famous Coachella Valley Music Festival in 2009. Now we operate a national fleet of ten mobile trucks and carts. Five are in southern California; two are in New York; and five are in Dallas, Texas. We go everywhere with our trucks – you can find us at large public events, at private parties and giving away treats as unique giveaways and brand activation tools. We are in every state and we are distributing our pre-packaged sandwiches and bars. By the end of the year, we will be in about 4,000 stores including Gourmet Garage and Whole Foods. We plan to expand our distribution by adding new retailers and developing additional unique products and unique partnerships at new venues like Citifield. These are channels where we think we can grow a lot more.
Make sure to check back on in-sight next week for Part 2 of our interview with Coolhaus!
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