The brand new location of the NYC ice cream parlor gives a collaboration with a star chef from Houston
To celebrate the opening of their second Houston location in Uptown Park, Brooklyn Van Leeuwen ice cream has partnered with one of the city’s James Beard Award-winning chefs to create a special, limited edition flavor. It may not go as viral as the taste of the company’s Kraft Macaroni & Cheese recently did (more on that below), but Houstoners should find it pretty enjoyable.
For those who missed Van Leeuwen’s first Houston location opening in May, the company makes ice cream using carefully selected, high-quality ingredients from around the world. Regulations require its packaging to be labeled “French Ice Cream” as too much egg yolk is used to be “normal” ice cream. Van Leeuwen also offers an extensive range of vegan flavors.
When the Uptown Park Store opens in August, customers can sample a special Horchata flavor created in collaboration with Chef Hugo Ortega. While chef Van Leeuwen’s new street food restaurant Urbe will be next in Uptown Park, Van Leeuwen co-founder and CEO Ben Van Leeuwen explains that other factors also influenced the decision.
“A big part of it was working with someone who makes really, really good food,” Van Leeuwen tells CultureMap. “Every one of his restaurants I’ve been to is great and the desserts are great too. Sometimes I go to very good restaurants and the desserts are not as good as the hearty ones. The desserts have reached this mark in every one of its locations. “
To create the flavor, Van Leeuwen changed one of their existing ice cream bases by replacing some of the milk solids with roasted rice flour. Cassia cinnamon was sourced from Vietnam in collaboration with an independent spice dealer in New York. A dulce de leche swirl gives the horchata a decent caramel sweetness.
“Van Leeuwen was wonderful to work with on opening stores in Houston and I am honored that they asked me to work with them on a signature flavor,” said Chef Ortega through a representative. “My brother, pastry chef Ruben Ortega, and I thought Horchata would be a good choice because it’s something we both love, it’s a very distinctive taste of Mexico, and it translates well into a frozen dessert. We look forward to being neighbors of the Van Leeuwen Store in Uptown Park! “
Until the Van Leeuwen Store opens, diners can get a taste of Horchata ice cream, paired with dulce de leche crepes, at Caracol, Ortega’s seafood restaurant in the Galleria area.
As for the Rice Village location, which opened in May, Van Leeuwen says it has exceeded the company’s expectations. “I can really say that I couldn’t imagine being happier. Not only from sales, but also from the continued enthusiasm of the customers, ”he says.
The company will open a third location in September in the mixed-use Montrose Collective development near the corner of Westheimer and Montrose. It will also have a collaborative taste, but the company hasn’t committed to a partner to create it yet.
The CEO admits that Van Leeuwen will “probably” produce more mac and cheese ice cream. He says he was surprised to find that Kraft mac and cheese powder meets all of the company’s ingredient standards and contains no artificial ingredients.
“What surprised me is [the mac and cheese ice cream is] very edible ”, Van Leeuwen. “I want to eat it for me. When I take a bite, I can’t stop like our pistachio or Earl Gray. “