If you've frequented the OC Mix as often as I have, you're already familiar with N'iceCream. Scooping sweet treats is its specialty, and you can't go wrong with the flavors it offers. This week's interview taught us there's much more to the brand than salted caramel gelato.
How did you come up with the name?
Funny story. In Denmark, we only have one word for all types of frozen treats, which is ice cream. My wife's last name is Nielsen, so we thought it would be cute to collaborate the two words: Nielsen + ice cream = N'iceCream. Then, moving here, we realized you [Americans] call what we do "gelato," so we had to add a tagline–N'iceCream: Nielsen's Homemade Gelato & Sorbet.
Favorite meal growing up:
Wienersnitzel with fries.
Where was your most recent meal?
A risotto my wife made.
Weirdest thing you've ever eaten:
Traveling with my parents through Europe as a boy, I tried "Butter Knobel," a German ball of fat and flour [he thinks] that is steamed and served in soup.
We saw your espresso collaboration with Portola Coffee Lab. Any thoughts about doing one with Seventh Tea Bar?
Yes, of course. We love using ingredients from our neighbors' stores. Besides the collaboration with Portola, we have had flavors with spices from Savory Spice Shop, cheese from Cellar Cheese Shop, olive oil from We Olive & Wine Bar, and waffles from the Iron Press.
What are the most popular flavors? Are they the same in Costa Mesa?
The salted caramel has always been a favorite in all stores, but we sell a lot of the waffle cone crunch flavor here in the Mix.
Favorite places to eat (besides your own):
I like any gourmet burger place with nice, craft beers.
You're making breakfast. What are you having?
I love American breakfasts. I'd make a plate of scrambled eggs with ketchup, bacon, ham, stacked pancakes and O.J.
One food you can't live without:
Bread. Being Danish, I grew up with rye bread and open-faced sandwiches.
Your best recent food find:
Mexicali Taco Co. in downtown LA.
Your earliest dessert memory:
Strawberry ice cream eaten at my grandparents' house. I have always been a sucker for ice cream.
Where do you source your dairy from?
At the moment, we use organic milk from Strauss.
Any special seasonal flavors in the works?
We always use fresh fruit for our sorbets, which makes them super-seasonal. But we have a couple of fun things up our sleeve that we won't reveal yet. . . .
Culinarily speaking, Orange County has the best:
Customers. I know that's not what you meant, but it's actually true. In LA, we have a grand variety of different foods, and we see most of them in OC now. But OC has, hands down, the best customers. They really enjoy their food and beverages and embrace small businesses into the local community. It's not about trends and much less pretentious.
What is your beverage of choice, and where do you get it?
I designed a milkshake from two parts strawberry sorbet and one part vanilla, and it is AMAZING.
What were the challenges to opening a storefront? How did you overcome them?
The challenges were many and very different from store to store. Mainly, they involved permits and money.
Where do you plan to open next? Another one in Orange County, perhaps?
We want to. Do you know of any good locations?
Let's talk about fund-raising.
We have always tried to help local schools and charities with N'iceCream, but we have recently partnered up with CareFinancial, a local credit-card company that is not only giving us super-low rates on processing, but also donating 25 percent of the fees associated with processing to local charities. This time, it's the Boys and Girls Club, which we are SUPER-excited about.
Would you consider staying open an hour later on Saturday? Because 7 p.m. is TOO EARLY!
[Laughs.] Yes, we would be open to doing that.