THE SUN has got his hat on and people are outside enjoying a fine English summer’s day.
All that’s needed to top it off is an ice cream and if a young businesswoman from Whitley Chapel has anything to do with it, you can be sure your day will topped off in more ways than one.
More than 100 ways in fact, because Zoe Philipson makes a huge range of sauces to complement her dad Alan’s ice creams.
Alan has been making ice cream for some 40 years and his ice cream van is a familiar fixture at the Sele in Hexham. Zoe had been helping him make the ice cream at home for some time, and also makes her own slushes.
But with all the equipment already to hand, she decided to have a go at sauces instead. A lot of experimenting followed during the winter months and when she was happy with her recipes, Zoe launched Super Sauce this year. It was another string to the family business and won her an award at the national Ice Cream Alliance Expo in Harrogate recently.
“I was using the same sort of equipment to make the slushes so I started making the sauces,” said Zoe. “It took me six months to get the consistency right. A lot goes into it and I must have tried 50 or 60 times to get the thickness right along with the flavours. Why I went into all these hundreds of flavours is because people got bored with just one or two. But if they know the local ice cream van has something different like Vimto sauce, they go to the Sele. It is nice to think they come back just for my something like my After Eight sauce.”
“The flavours are colourless so if you want you can have a blue-coloured raspberry flavour!”
Creating sauces that taste exactly like an After Eight chocolate meant a lot of trial and error, but it was nice work because it involved lots of taste tests. “I kind of had the technique of choosing flavour when making the slushes so I knew which ones would sell, but had to make sure they tasted just like the product,” said Zoe. “So with the After Eight, I would try a bit of the sauce and then have an After Eight to make sure they tasted the same.”
Vimto and After Eight are just two of the 100 flavours Zoe has created, which also include bubble gum, Black Jack and creme egg.
Looking back, the 22-year-old sees the route she took to award-winning young businesswoman as a natural progression from her school days. Growing up watching her dad make ice cream, she went on to study food technology at GCSE level followed by science A levels.
“I left school after A levels and did not bother with university because I was already making the slush. And I was wholesaling cups and straws as well while I was doing my A levels. When it came to weekends it was making ice cream, revising or making slush.”
A store room at the family home, with its rows of different coloured liquids in containers, looks like a chemistry lab and Zoe’s experiments with flavours and colours can be quite adventurous.
“You have got to know about viscosity and know about temperature,” she said. “You have got to know when the optimum temperature is when making a sauce so it goes to the right consistency. With the After Eight, for example, you mix chocolate with peppermint. And there are different gradients of flavour. With cola it can be sweet, or it can be like Haribo cola or Pepsi or the cola taste you got years ago. They are totally different.
“And the colours need to be right. With the Vimto, I made it red to start with and some said it should be purple so I changed it. The flavours are colourless so if you want you can have a blue-coloured raspberry flavour!