January 20, 2012
The way of the Ice Cream Ninjas
After excluding the Ice Cream Ninjas parlour in Tyger Valley from my Top Five Ice Cream Spots blog, I was challenged to a taste fest by Head Ninja Anton Fester, and soon realised my error.
Located conveniently on the ground level of the Tyger Valley Shopping Centre’s Food Court, the brightly coloured ice cream dojo, uh parlour, is inviting and impressive. Balls of frozen dessert seem to fly about but, fear not, this is just the ninjas at work, showing off their stunning martial arts skills as they mix your personally chosen ingredients into a tasty delight on a frozen slab.
With more than 100 000 possible combinations and a variety of toppings to choose from, my fellow taster and I found it virtually impossible to choose one. Luckily Anton was on hand to help.
Our White Cloud (vanilla ice cream, white chocolate, peanut butter, chocolate brownie and cookie dough), Nutty Latte (coffee ice cream, fudge, pecan nuts and caramelised cashews) and It Takes Two To Mango (raspberry sauce, mango ice cream, almonds and pineapple) were DIVINE!
Having been humbled by my gobsmacking adventure, and swearing on my waffle cone that I would never again omit the Ice Cream Ninjas from such a blog, I sat down for a chat with Anton, my newly discovered sensei:
What trade were you in before?
I worked for a major tobacco company for about 10 years before I was retrenched. My last position was in the marketing department.
When and how did the idea for the Ice Cream Ninjas concept come to you?
Once I had heard there would be a restructure and that my role was affected, I decided it was my way out of corporate, and started looking at the food industry. I realised three things about franchises: they are expensive, all the best sites are taken, and there is no room for creativity. I thought back to an ice cream shop I went to in New York (I seriously hadn't thought about this place in about four years) and googled it. They were looking to expand internationally and for $2m I could hold the master franchise for SA. This was a bit too rich for my liking. After more research I realised there were more chains that used the same concept of mixing things into ice cream on a frozen slab. I clicked that the concept wasn't exclusive, and that was my in. I used all my experience in marketing to create the Ice Cream Ninjas brand.
How do you plan on expanding the business this year?
From three places: opening more shops, increasing the number of events we do with our mobile unit (weddings, birthdays, corporate/brand events), and increasing our product offering (we already do gourmet ice cream cakes, and milkshakes are next)
What has been your most inspired ice cream creation?
The most inspired creation has to be the Eye of the Tiger. It has wasabi peas and ginger mashed into crème ice cream. It is definitely punches above its weight class. *insert Rocky music*
Your most memorable client satisfaction experience is?
There have been so many spectacular reactions to our ice cream that it's hard to choose one
If the Mother City was an ice cream designed by your team, what would she be and why?
Cape Town would have to be chocolate, coffee and crème ice cream with koeksisters, pecan nuts and a brownie. We would call it the Ma se City.
The ice creams are representations of the diversity of Cape Town, the koeksisters are deliciously sweet, the pecans add an amazing texture and the brownies are ... well ... they're just amazing like the city!
See the Ninjas in action: