Working with DYW

As part of #IceCreamMonth, we are delighted to be working with Developing The Young Workforce – Ayrshire (DYW) to showcase all that the artisan ice cream industry has to offer and in particular the job opportunities it creates for our young workforce.

We are very proud of our summer recruit Louis Warwick, who was video-interviewed by Natalie and Danielle from DYW about his experience working in Sugar & Spice and serving Geraldo’s Ice Cream.  Louis was asked lots of questions about everything from the recruitment process, to his favourite and least liked tasks within the role. He did amazingly well! Have a look at the DYW blog and watch his video below.

File 20-07-2016, 13 08 09

Natalie and Danielle from DYW with our summer recruit, Louis.

DYW is the Scottish Government’s youth employment strategy aiming to develop the young workforce and reduce youth unemployment by 40 per cent by 2021. The Ayrshire DYW Regional Group was established to engage with local employers, encourage them to liaise with schools and colleges and to recruit more young people within the region. We are very pleased to be part of this initiative and look forward to working with DYW in the future.

 

 

Ice Cream Day with Geraldo’s

President Ronald Reagan announced a national holiday to celebrate ice cream back in 1984. His intention was to promote the economic well-being of the US Dairy Industry and he called on everyone to pay tribute to ice cream with “appropriate ceremonies and activities”. To this day, National Ice Cream Day is celebrated on the 3rd Sunday in July, not only in the USA but also here in the UK. Needing no excuse, we raised a Geraldo’s ice cream cone to celebrate!

Me and Sweet Caroline

Ice cream has certainly changed since 1984 with a rise of artisan producers and a growing range of amazing and unusual flavours. Our own brand of Geraldo’s ice cream has been produced by Toni and Sweet Caroline for 11 years in the smallest production unit in Scotland (at the back of the shop). Named after Toni’s late father, Geraldo’s has won numerous awards for creative flavour combinations including gluten free options. Have a look at Toni’s account of ‘The Story of Geraldo’s ice cream’ for the inside scoop on how it all started.

Having worked with Italian MasterChef Antonio Losita last month, Toni has developed some fantastic new flavours, including Lemon Sorbet, Pear Cheesecake and Raffaello. Sweet Caroline, at 71 years, still makes most of the ice cream on-site. After 11 years of making Geraldo’s ice cream, the busiest day ever was in June this year when Caroline made 180 litres of ice cream by hand from 10am until 11:30pm.  At the end of that night, she was captured on camera dancing in the shop to Michael Jackson’s, ‘Don’t Blame it on the Sunshine’. Proof, if any was needed, that happiness is ice cream.

Happy Ice Cream DAY!

 

 

There’s a Bank Holiday Weekend coming up…

Well here’s the 2nd instalment of my Did You Know feature and I’m sure you don’t need me to remind you that this weekend is a Bank Holiday weekend.

 

That means only one thing – all systems go for those of us catering for tourists or day trippers in any way. Stock orders in, all hands on deck and fingers crossed for some good weather, and let’s hope it’s several degrees warmer than it has been in the last few days.

Despite the drop in temperature I still have to be prepared for a hot, sunny spell and last week my delivery of ice cream cones came in, all 60+ boxes of them, so you could say I’m ready for some sunshine. We’ve changed our range of waffle cones this year and have a couple of new additions on offer including one rolled in popcorn and another rolled in milk chocolate vermicelli and, of course, our best selling nutty waffle. (My personal favourite!)

Our premium waffle cone selection for 2015

Thankfully I did actually manage that day away last week at the spa with Sweet Caroline. Unfortunately, after a somewhat painful massage to remove the lumps and bumps from my back and neck, I was guided into the relaxation room to recover then promptly fell asleep for the next 2 hours so most of the afternoon was gone!  For those of you not working this weekend take time to relax, enjoy some family time and take advantage of the time off; you deserve it I’m sure.

Did you know this weekend also signals the start of Whisky Month and World Whisky Day is only a few weeks away when we Scots pay homage to our national drink. My display window is being dressed on Thursday and I’ll have more about what we’re doing in the shop in next week’s instalment including a fantastic offer on the newly acclaimed online Whisky School Courses.

Finally, did you know you can vote for us in the Waverley Golden Cone Awards?  It’s the annual search to find Scotland’s favourite place to enjoy ice cream and since this is Geraldo’s 10th anniversary we’d love you to vote for us please.  All you have to do is fill in the form online for your chance to win a fully stocked ice cream cart for a special event of your choosing. Closing date is Tuesday, 5th of May.

 

 Good luck with your entry and have a great weekend everyone!

Toni x

Did you know?

IMG_9864p

After last week’s blog about the start of the ice cream season and Geraldo’s 10th birthday I was sitting in my office this morning wondering what to write about next.  So I’ve decided to introduce a weekly (this may be wishful thinking on my part) blog called:

Did you know?

Haven’t a clue what its going to be about but I’m sure if I book myself in for a day spa at Cameron House this week the inspiration will come to me. (Now that’s definitely wishful thinking!)

Here goes for this week’s instalment…

Did you know that Monday is our usual day for stripping down our Mr Whippy ice cream machine?  The whole process takes about an hour or so, all the parts are sterilised and lubricated then the machine is filled again with fresh ice cream; Geraldo’s ice cream, of course, and we’re the only shop in Largs who puts fresh ice cream in our Mr Whippy machine.  Did you know it’s Gluten Free? And did you know we now have Gluten Free cones to serve it in?  Please tell your coeliac friends all about it and they’ll be your BFF!

 

Monday is also a day for stock orders and Bon Bons is usually first on my list.  Did you know we stock over 100 different flavours of traditional hand packed sweets from Bon Bons? They also supply us with their melt in the mouth fudge, giant chocolate slabs, gourmet mallows and gorgeous gift bags filled with retro sweets, cinder toffee and flying saucers.

BON BONS 001

After a busy weekend with lots of visitors to Largs, did you know that the days following a busy period is when most small business owners like me start preparing for the next one?  After all the stock orders for the week ahead are done, there’s admin, banking, accounting, payroll, staff rotas, forward planning, website updates, marketing…..the list is long but if the business is going to be ready for the next instalment of good weather and lots of visitors, we have to be organised and prepared for it.

DSC_0192

Despite all of this, did you know Monday is my favourite day of the week?  I like it even more if I’ve had a busy weekend.  It’s a real shame for those of you who don’t enjoy, sorry LOVE, what you do, dread Monday mornings and the idea of going back to work.  For someone like me who, 15 years ago didn’t like the idea of starting a business in Largs one little bit, did you know I absolutely love it here.

Have a great week everyone and keep your fingers crossed for me that I manage that well-deserved spa day.  I’ll let you know next week!

Toni x

It’s Geraldo’s 10th birthday!

Year of Food and Drink 2015

Celebrating the Year of Scottish Food and Drink 2015

We’re already well into celebrating the Year of Food & Drink in Scotland and at the first sign of sunshine Largs is overflowing with day-trippers, tourists and residents of the surrounding areas making the most of the good weather.  Good weather brings lots of smiles to people’s faces and it also heralds the start of the ice cream season too.

Big smiles all round in Largs.

Big smiles all round in Largs.

With April being the month for award-winning foods we thought it was a perfect month to announce that Geraldo’s Ice Cream is celebrating  its 10th birthday this month.  There’s quite a story attached to how Geraldo’s began and you can read that here. We’ve picked up numerous awards over the years for our Classic Vanilla, Mint Choc Chip, Scottish Tablet, Gerry Berry and Natural Strawberry to name but a few but we have loads more flavours to choose from with 16 on the go at any one time.

10 years old this month!

10 years old this month!

My ice cream is made with Scottish milk and cream supplied to me by Mills Dairies in Largs and I use only the finest fruit purees and ripples.  It’s also Gluten Free and Sugar & Spice is the only ice cream shop in Largs to put fresh ice cream in our Mr Whippy machine too.

Fresh, gluten free ice cream in our Mr Whippy too!

Fresh, gluten free ice cream in our Mr Whippy too!

We’re open late every night until at least 9pm so if you’re in town or driving through, drop by and give us a visit.  If you’re on Facebook, why don’t you LIKE our page, CHECK IN if you’re in the shop and you can pick up TWO FREE TOPPINGS ON YOUR ICE CREAM.

LIKE and CHECK IN for 2 FREE TOPPINGS

LIKE and CHECK IN for 2 FREE TOPPINGS

Choose any 2!

Choose any 2!

Me and Mama Mia (Sweet Caroline) look forward to seeing you!

Toni x

Me and Sweet Caroline

Robert Burns World Federation Dinner

IMG_3102-1.JPG

Recently I was asked to produce a Whisky Ice Cream for 300 people attending the inaugural dinner of the Robert Burns World Federation.

Dignitaries from around Ayrshire and beyond attended the event at Greenwood Academy in Dreghorn on Saturday, 13th Sept 2014 after holding their AGM and conference in the Menzies Hotel in Irvine.  North Ayrshire’s Facilities Manager, Ken Campbell, asked me to prepare a Whisky Ice Cream of my own choosing for the occasion so it had to be something special.  I’m slowly getting to grips with the complexities of the many fantastic whiskies out there but this was the first time I’d tried mixing it with ice cream.

After discussing some options with one of the ice cream industry’s advisors, I personally decided on the Bowmore 12YO Malt from Islay.  The late, great whisky writer, Michael Jackson, proclaimed it as “remarkably long and complex.”  For me, that was exactly what I wanted to achieve with my ice cream; a taste sensation that really lingered.  I wasn’t disappointed.  Even the distillery, one of the oldest in Scotland, say their Bowmore 12 YO is like vanilla ice cream at a beach bonfire.

I couldn’t have got a better combination.  My ice cream is almost 10% full cream and I needed something to cut through that without being too overpowering.  Bowmore’s trademark peaty smokiness balanced with a subtle taste of honey and lemon was ideal. The end result was a very intensely whisky flavoured ice cream (4% alcohol) with a light ripple of caramelised whisky sauce.

After posting some pics and and tweets of the resultant flavour, I have to say that customers have responded with requests for more, more, more!  It’s been on sale in my cabinet (at no extra cost) for the last few days and has been a huge success.  This one’s adults only of course (sorry kids) but has inspired me to try some more combinations as we start to go into the autumn/winter.  Any suggestions?

Sláinte!

What a fantastic start to the XX Commonwealth Games in Glasgow…

20140726-132114-48074301.jpg

Celebrations in Largs as the Queen’s Baton returns home to Millport

It’s not every day you get a request like this but a few weeks ago, the head of catering for North Ayrshire Council popped in to Sugar & Spice to talk about a special celebration dinner for the Queen’s Baton Relay carriers prior to the XX Commonwealth Games starting in Glasgow. Geraldo’s ice cream was to feature on the menu and I was asked to create two new flavours for the occasion.

The dinner was being held over two days for 500 people on both nights and to welcome the teams from Nigeria and St Helena as their special guests. The request was for 24 napolis each of Mango and Lime ice cream along with 1000 chocolate dipped waffle cones and 32 kilos of handmade chocolates. The ice cream was being carried into the dinner on specially designed platters to hold the cones high, resembling the baton, with the chocolates from Sugar & Spice being served afterwards.

20140726-140335-50615018.jpg

The first batch of Geraldo’s Mango ice cream being produced for the Queen’s Baton Celebration Dinner

I was over the moon to be asked to do it and delighted that Geraldo’s Ice Cream was specifically mentioned on the dinner menu. The excitement in town on the day was fantastic and the feedback has been amazing. Largs was especially busy as the Queen’s Baton made its way into town and across to the island of Cumbrae and the town of Millport where the wood for the Baton came from. On its return into Largs, crowds lined the streets and cheered the Baton carriers as they passed Sugar & Spice and made their way further down the coast prior to the celebration dinner later that day.  Even Magnus, Largs’s Viking warrior on the promenade, was involved when Karen Dunbar posed for photos with the town’s Vikings.

20140726-141333-51213948.jpg

Magnus looks on bemused as Karen Dunbar stops briefly for a photo opportunity with the Vikings of Largs.

After all the hustle and bustle was over I was especially pleased to be able to spend a few hours in the city centre of Glasgow on the day of the opening ceremony. My cousin Maxine was visiting from Singapore and we headed for Buchanan Street for lunch. The atmosphere in town was incredible with live entertainment all around the streets of the city. I can honestly say I’ve never experienced Glasgow as being this much fun and it was clear the city was literally welcoming all nations with open arms.  At 7pm the streets cleared as everyone headed to the opening ceremony or to the nearest TV screen to watch the celebrations unfold.

20140726-143506-52506855.jpg

Buchanan Street buskers made the atmosphere in Glasgow city centre electric on the opening day of the XX Commonwealth Games.

Well done Glasgow and to all the volunteers and contributors involved. You certainly flourished that day!

The 2014 International Flying Dutchman World Championships are coming to Largs…

20140710-095829-35909775.jpg It’s bright and breezy out on the Firth of Clyde and Largs is sailing into the weekend with perfect conditions for hosting this world class event at Largs Yacht Haven organised by the SSI and Largs Sailing Club. Competitiors have arrived for the event with registration and the opening ceremony taking place this weekend. The fun starts on Monday, 14th when the first two races start and will continue right through to Saturday, 19th of July with the prize giving and closing ceremony. The sight of these spectacular 20-foot racing boats is one not to be missed so get yourself to Largs this week and don’t miss out. fd Worlds Meanwhile, at Sugar & Spice, we’ve developed a new flavour of Geraldo’s Ice Cream to welcome the competitors to the town centre. It’s our traditional Classic Vanilla recipe rippled with red and blue raspberry sauce and a sprinkling of blue sherbet pips and called, you guessed it: “The Flying Dutchman!” We’re flying the flag for Great Britain and hope that our British competitors enjoy some fantastic racing. 20140711-143334-52414467.jpg Incidentally, I just found out the Flying Dutchman is a legendary ghost ship that’s doomed to sail the oceans forever. Let’s just hope that all who sail in the event make it safely back to shore to enjoy the closing party celebrations.

Talking of celebrations, if you’re a whisky or whisky liqueur fan, Old Pulteney are one of the event sponsors. We’re offering 10% discount off Old Pulteney Stroma Liqueur during the Flying Dutchman event.

Have fun!

Toni

The story of Geraldo’s ice cream…

20140703-204038-74438013.jpg

My Dad, Gerald Dawson, aka Geraldo!

I guess most girls think of their Dad as handsome but I remember this picture in particular because I took it. He had a great sense of style, a fabulous smile and was always upbeat, outgoing and full of energy. That was before the recession of the 90’s kicked in and he lost everything, home included, after 35 years in business. My parents moved in with me and shortly afterwards he was diagnosed with bowel cancer. That was the beginning of a long hard struggle against ill health and trying to make a start again in business. Dad was absolutely determined to keep going no matter what.

I took the opportunity to start up myself in Largs operating a seasonal ice cream outlet near the CalMac ferry terminal. With a great deal of family support, Mum and Dad moved to Largs and whilst I accompanied Dad to hospital for ongoing treatment, Mum assisted me in the business. Two summer seasons later another shop came on the market directly opposite me. Dad was obviously feeling better around then and encouraged me to “go for it!”  After successfully securing the lease on the property, Sugar & Spice started up in March 2000.  With little more than a few £100 in cash to get going, I fitted out the shop with very basic kitchen units, hand painted them in bright candy pink stripes and tried to get really creative filling such a large space with well-packaged confectionery and holiday rock.

My Mum had always been in the ice cream business and started up ‘Caroline’s Ices’ in Ayr back in the early 60’s and I knew from the family’s previous business interests that I had to sell ice cream to make the business work long term.  Largs has a strong history of Italian ice cream families and the Nardini name is known all over the world.  Equipment is hugely expensive and there was no way I could afford to buy.  What chance did I have with so much going against me?  I decided to contact several suppliers to see who could loan me a display cabinet and supply me with good quality ice cream.  The Orkney Creamery was a family business like ours and their wonderfully creamy ice cream was just what I wanted.  It was a small cabinet to begin with, 8 flavours I recall, and situated inside the shop.  Knowing that ice cream is an impulse buy, I knew the cabinet had to be within eyesight of passing customers if it was going to work so after the first season I submitted a planning application to open up one of my front windows so that the ice cream could be served directly onto the street.  What a difference that made!  Three years on and the Orkney Creamery could no longer keep up with demand and they told me at the end of that summer they could no longer supply me.  It was a real blow at the time but sometimes you don’t realise that a seemingly bad situation is really an opportunity in disguise.

Ice Cream queues

Dad was hugely supportive but his health took a turn for the worse.  Mum and I continued to look after him at home with nurses, doctors and round the clock medication all part of the daily routine for several months.  I always remember him saying “Take control and go for it kiddo!”  So I did!

Mum and I enrolled in training courses with Carpigiani’s Gelato University, travelled to Hereford to study courses in recipe formulation and research ice cream making equipment and, within 6 months during the quieter winter season, I remortgaged my home, borrowed every penny I could on credit cards and set up my own production unit at the back of my shop.  It also happens to be the smallest production unit in Scotland but you’d be amazed at what comes out of it.

Dad was terminally ill at that point but was constantly asking how it was all going.  I contacted one of the best graphic designers I know, Derek Goodchild at Ocean Agency, and asked him to create a logo for my new ice cream brand.

My Dad was a very good footballer and won 5 caps for the Scottish Showmen’s International Football League.  He was spotted by a talent scout who wanted to sign him to play professionally for Preston North End.  Faced with choosing between this fantastic  opportunity and his commitment to the family business at that time my Dad decided to give up any notion of a professional career in football.  He continued to play for the SSIFL and everyone who played with him and against him likened him to one of the world’s best Brazilian football players at that time, Geraldo Jose da Silva.  Everyone knew my Dad as Geraldo and so…

Geraldo’s Luxury Ice Cream was born!

My newly branded cabinet was installed in the Spring of 2005 along with branded tubs, napkins and wafers and another ice cream season was upon us.  On Father’s Day 2005, I nipped home to check on Dad and tell him we’d just had a power cut and all my ice cream was melting in the middle of a busy, hot and sunny, Sunday afternoon.  Mum was in the shop giving it away. Why waste good ice cream and what a great marketing opportunity that turned out to be.  He settled back down, smiled and passed away later that night.

There’s not a day goes by when I don’t think of him and the inspiration that he was to me and every day the sun’s shining brightly in Largs there’s nowhere I would rather be than scooping and serving my award-winning ice cream to the visitors and hearing them say Geraldo’s is the best ice cream in Largs.

Incidentally, my Mum affectionately called my Dad Gerry Berry.  That’s now my signature flavour – Classic Vanilla rippled with Amarena Cherries soaked in Kirsch and Balsamic Vinegar.  Dad would’ve loved it!!

Gerald Dawson
1937 – 2005

Largs Live 2014

Image

It’s back, for it’s 3rd year running and it’s bigger than ever – 25 venues all conveniently located around town, 75 bands and over 100 gigs.  Drag yourself away from Wimbledon and explore Largs because school’s out tomorrow afternoon, the weather forecast is looking good and Largs is all ready to start the summer holidays alive and kicking with the first gig for this year’s Largs Live music festival starting at 6pm in the Bean and Leaf.

There’s a diverse range of music and entertainment throughout the weekend with top Scottish acts including Fatherson, The New Picadillys, The Laynes, Anna Sweeney, Ross Hamilton, Shambles Miller, Jo Mango and John Morgan as well as a huge headline show by Brownbear at Barrfields on the Friday.  Joining them will be plenty of local favourites such as Neil Menzies, Crisis, Drew Gault, Alan McKenzie, Jimallywhy and Chanty Dyke to name but a few who will create the spectacle that is Largs Live 2014.

There’s also street music and shows featuring Clanadonia who’ll be drumming up a storm in the Main St along with the Hong Lok Dragon Dance Troupe who will hopefully bring some good luck to this year’s festival with their dragon and lion dancing.

Scotch Broth Productions will be performing 6 free shows over Saturday and Sunday with Meet the McDougalls; not to be missed by the younger visitors to this year’s festival and Kelburn Country Centre has announced they will be hosting live music on the afternoon of Sunday, 29th June.  Largs and Fairlie residents will receive half price admission during the event if you present proof of address and you can enjoy all the usual Kelburn attractions as an added bonus.

I will, of course, be open for business throughout the weekend serving up ice cream, sweet treats and even slush to keep you all super cool in between gigs right through till at least 10pm every night.  Be on your best behaviour, mention ‘Geraldo’s is the best ice cream in Largs’ and you may even get a couple of free toppings on your big dipper.

Stay safe, enjoy the weekend and have a fantastic time at Largs Live 2014!

Toni x