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The chill out zone . . . Gearing up for the new season

The chill out zone . . . Gearing up for the new season

The changing seasons provide a great opportunity to mix up your gelato offering to better suit the weather and your customers’ moods.

Henley Bridge Ice Cream and Gelato Technician Mark Eastman advises: “Whilst light, floral and fruity flavours such as elderflower or lemon might work really well in the summer months, autumn/winter calls for denser, fuller flavours.

“As it gets colder and darker, people seek out warming, comforting food, so think about things like crumbles, cheesecakes and other popular winter dessert choices, such as sticky toffee pudding and re-create them in ice cream form."

”Statistically, ice cream sales drop off by 60% in the winter months, but over 70% of ice cream sales are impulsive so make sure your counter is bright and enticing," continues Mark.

“Winter tends to be drab and grey so you need to create some sunshine in your cabinet,” he continues. “Create a ‘pick and mix’ of colours to grab your customers’ attention. People buy with their eyes so it’s all about the theatre.”

Case study

Celine Thompson, is the co-founder of Jefferson's in Balham, south-west London

"Our menu and ice creams are very seasonal and we try to mix up our cabinet and rotate flavours on a regular basis whilst keeping the classics. We make a ‘Flavour of the Month’ which allows us to embrace every month differently, it’s quite a commitment to research and development but customers love the variety and it brings them back particularly outside of the summer months.

We follow the seasonality of food and at this time of year, move towards cosy flavours and warming spices, such as cinnamon and nutmeg. I’m a big believer that food evokes memories and the best season for that is winter.

As we lose the colour of summer and the leaves turn brown, many ice cream makers follow that colour brown! I’m very conscious of colour in the cabinet and try to preserve natural colourful flavours.

When I’m creating our seasonal menus, I create a picture in my mind and try to imagine what people are doing and wearing and how they’re feeling. For autumn and winter, we usually start wrapping up warmer and wanting more comfort food!

For September, I imagine people out blackberry picking and our 'flavour of the month' reflects that image with ‘toasted oat & wild blueberry crumb’. October will follow a Halloween theme, with November nodding to Thanksgiving.

It’s really important that customers feel part of the process and we’re always asking for their feedback and to regularly vote for which flavours they want to stay on our menu.

We don’t do wacky, novelty or branded ice creams, we’re all about excellent quality ingredients, with natural flavours and colours,– but we do encourage our customers to customise their toppings and sauces so that every experience is unique. Sauces tend to be more seasonal so, in the colder months, we see a lot more demand for Nutella and Biscoff.

Ice cream is relevant all year round but, at this time of year, it becomes more of an accompaniment rather than the ‘main event’, so we offer lots of complementary products, such as hot chocolate, waffles, brownies and hot cakes".

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