You like ice cream? Did you ever try one made with liquid nitrogen? And if yes, did it taste like Stilton? Well, we actually tried exactly this when we met Charlie Harry Francis at the EFS a few weeks back, and found his daring creations scrumptious! Behind the provocative name of his company you will find an actually brilliant concept – think “Charlie and the chocolate factory” meets Mad Max.
He has build amazing steampunk ice cream parlours, the most recent one being an ice cream buggy (see the video below). His idea: create any flavour of ice cream within seconds, by mixing the flavours with the ice cream base, and churning them with liquid nitrogen. Easy!
More recently, the whole world talked about his latest invention: a glow in the dark ice cream using synthesised jellyfish luminescence. The frozen glow ball reacts with your tongue at neutral PH, lighting up when you lick it and giving off an eerie green glow. Charlie says:
It’s probably the most expensive ice cream I’ve ever made; jellyfish luminescence is four times more expensive than gold so each scoop costs me around £140. It tastes pretty good though and I don’t seem to be glowing anywhere.
We had the chance to ask him a few questions, and he even shared with us the recipe of his glow-in-a-nightclub ice cream (the one without jellyfishes)!
FC: Hi Charlie, can you introduce yourself and tell us your story?
I’m Charlie, founder of award winning experimental ice cream company Lick Me I’m Delicious. I grew up on an ice cream farm in South Wales, my Dad is an ice cream maker and my Mum’s an incredible baker and confectionary maker. I wanted to find a way of bringing these two disciplines together, so the any flavour instant ice cream proposition was born.
FC: What’s the secret ingredient of your amazing frozen creations?
I would say that varies. We always start with our base mix made to a secret family recipe. Then we add whatever’s appropriate – aged tawny port and Colston Bassett Stilton for our dark port and stilton. Quinine would be the secret ingredient for our glow in the UV dark gin and tonic sorbet (see recipe below).
FC: What were the biggest challenges when you started your own business? What helped you a most to overcome those?
Knowing how to do everything – how to set up an company, how to write an estimate, how to built a liquid nitrogen ice cream buggy. You basically start not knowing anything and as you go on your realise how much you don’t know. The most important thing is to be ok with this situation and enjoy it. The most important lesson I have learnt is to not get stressed, stress is your enemy, it doesn’t help you, just makes you tired. If you feel yourself getting stressed, take some time out and eat a biscuit.
FC: What proved to be the most effective to grow your business? In other words, what you wish you knew when you started ;)
Talk to people. Be friendly, be excited about your business. Most importantly, have fun.
FC: Can you share some funny anecdotes you’ve been through since you started? Especially those that you laugh about now, but didn’t when they happened?
Ice cream pottery was a pretty bizarre one. I met a guy at a party who was a potter. I asked him, off the cuff, if he thought he could throw ice cream on a potter’s wheel. He said yes. Fast forward a few months and there we are in a studio in Bath with the BBC filming live over our shoulders, I’m freezing the ice cream using my nitro ice cream parlour, David’s throwing the ice cream on a potter’s wheel to make edible ice cream bowls, he then passes them to his mate who’s a 3D photography expert who’d set up this elaborate 3D matrix style camera rig, he proceeded to take a series of images of the bowl as it melted which he reprinted in 3D, which were then recast in ceramic so we could hold the World’s first ice cream pottery art exhibition. All because I spoke to a guy at a party. The power of serendipity!
FC: What’s next for you? Any future projects you’d like to share?
I’m working on the hottest ice cream in the World and also an invisible ice cream. I’m also about to launch our top secret ninja new machine The Whirligig.
FC: A final word for anyone who dreams about starting their own business but are too scared, don’t have time/money, or simply don’t know where to start?
Do it. The only person holding you back is yourself.
FC: Thanks a lot Charlie :)
A sample from Charlie’s flavours: Olive Oil & Basil, Raspberry Mojito, Rose, and Whisky Salted Caramel. Badass!
Below, his recipe for making your own glow in the dark ice cream. This recipe works because quinine, a standard ingredient in tonic water, glows under UV light.
Glow in the Dark Ice Cream
- 400g caster sugar
- 800ml tonic water
- 4 heaped tablespoons gin
- 1 UV light
|Warm 400ml tonic water with the caster sugar over a low heat, stirring until the sugar is dissolved.|
|Pour in the rest of the tonic and the gin.|
|Transfer to an ice cream mixer and leave to freeze.|
|Serve under a UV light and enjoy your delicious glowing snow cone.|
[Most images courtesy of Lick me I’m Delicious]