From a food stylist to a renowned Manchester ice cream maker with her brand Ginger’s Comfort Emporium, Claire Kelsey has so far had a varied career – and she’s just about to launch a new venture working with two of the city’s most popular cake and brownie makers.
She talks us through how she got into the world of ice cream and where she gets her ideas.
You can’t miss Ginger’s Comfort Emporium when Claire Kelsey and the team are at an event.
Serving ‘ice cream for grown-ups’ from their distinctive blue and pink van, you never know what you might find on the menu thanks to Claire’s imagination and knack for creating innovative flavour combinations.
Previously working as a food stylist and chef, Claire was looking to head out on her own and create her own business. She thought about the idea of buying an ice cream van – and just two weeks later, at the end of 2009, she purchased one.
“I hit upon the idea of getting an ice cream van and renovating it into something else that could be a patisserie on wheels or doing cheese on toast in the winter and ice cream in the summer,” Claire explains.
But because of the demand, she decided to just stick with the ice cream (“the feedback was incredible,” she says) and eventually set up a permanent location within Affleck’s Palace to complement the van.
She now appears at a number of festivals – from the likes of Wilderness and Beat-Herder to family friendly events to food festivals. She also pops up at a number of markets and has an ice cream trike that’s used for corporate events.
— Makers Market (@makersmarketmcr) April 8, 2016
Claire says some of her highlights so far include providing absinthe ice cream for Saatchi & Saatchi Moulin Rouge themed Christmas party and taking part in Secret Garden Party.
But where does she get the inspiration for her various flavour combinations?
“I get ideas from everywhere,” she says. “You walk around and see unusual ingredients or you sit down for a meal in a restaurant and there’s a flavour combination on your main course that you’ve never thought of before and it translates – the ideas do come from anywhere.
“At the moment we’ve got pineapple and turmeric on the menu. I went to New York recently and walking through the East Village I came across this amazing ingredients store, a beautiful shop full of jars, it was run by this really chic French lady who was chatting to me and when I said I made ice cream, she recommended turmeric and pineapple. She was so convincing that I did it as soon as I got home!”
— Ginger's Comfort Emp (@GingersComfort) March 13, 2016
Despite being busy working festivals and events – she’s involved with ten festivals this year – she’s also working on a new venture, which is a collaborative affair.
It's officially the first day of spring, the sun is shining, time to put your knit away and to welcome the new season! Come and enjoy some ice cream in the sun, we have peach sorbet on top Salted Caramel & Peanut Butter ice cream on top Ndali Vanilla ice cream in the picture. Just a few of our flavours, come check us out! #manchester #affleckspalace #afflecks #icecream #gingerscomfort #sorbet #northernquarter
Claire worked with Charlotte on an ice cream banquet during Manchester Food and Drink Festival last year and during that period, Charlotte joined her in her kitchen – which was sublet to Nicki at Lush Brownies, and the trio decided to team up.
“When Charlotte joined us we were making all these amazing things under one roof and we were thinking we should do something together and deciding for a while about what to do and it’s slowly come together as MilkJam,” Claire says.
Although MilkJam is still in the early stages (“We’ve got a premises in mind but we’ve not signed for it yet so I don’t want to jinx it by revealing the location,” Claire says), the plans are well underway for the look and the menu.
“It’s going to be really beautiful inside. We’re really keen on the interior design aspect, we’ve had lots of lovely things commissioned and come up with some fun menu items,” she explains. “We just want people to have a really good time and be thrilled by what they’re ordering and have fun with it.”
Ginger’s Comfort Emporium, Afflecks Palace – gingerscomfortemporium.com.
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Main image: Ginger’s Comfort Emporium on Instagram.