In this new series, we are introducing you to the innovation pioneers of Ealing – small businesses with big dreams of doing new or better things to benefit our area and beyond.
In November last year, Ealing Council launched its pioneers’ fund, a scheme that provides grants to small and medium sized businesses to help them grow, develop new products or expand their workforce while stimulating the local economy. The £1million pot was shared out among 12 selected businesses based in the borough, that were each able to demonstrate how the funding would help accelerate growth and create new jobs.
Meet Ice Kitchen
We are introducing you to Ice Kitchen, specialising in award-winning gourmet ice lollies and fresh flavours frozen. Read their story below.
How it all started?
Coming from a food family, company’s founder Cesar Roden trained as a chef.
He says: “We started the business almost eight years ago, inspired by my aunt – an amazing creative, artist and food writer. Years ago, she saw a piece of ice in a gallery in Woodstock with a leaf inside, which inspired her to create ice lollies in America on a very small scale. I couldn’t find anything like that in the UK, so a couple of years later, I started making ice lollies in my mum’s kitchen, and launched them at events and markets, such as South Bank. Our ice lollies were noticed by the national retailer Cook, who loved them and the rest is history.”
Starting the business in Brent in a single unit, Ice Kitchen is now based in Park Royal, Ealing in a bigger space.
Cesar adds: “Park Royal is home to many other kitchens and is a real hub for food manufacturing. Being based here is great because different food manufacturers share knowledge and even staff sometimes.”
How it’s going?
The company has grown and scaled up and Ice Kitchen products are now available in Ocado, Waitrose, Hotel Chocolat, Partridges London and more retailers.
Cesar comments: “Pre-pandemic we were going to lots of events and doing bespoke projects. During COVID-19 we decided to no longer do events and we focused on retail instead.
“We also used that time to develop other non-ice cream products. We got busy and creative in our kitchen which led to us also starting to produce frozen pesto and Thai curry paste.
“Our specialism is fresh flavours frozen – a concept of freezing for the benefit of flavour, as well as freshness. Our research confirmed the benefits of freezing to preserve freshness.”
What’s next for Ice Kitchen?
Ice Kitchen is planning to use the pioneers’ grant to further develop the idea of blender-free smoothies.
“We are pre-blending fruits and vegetables with some added protein, freezing the mixture into cubes so our customers can pop out the cubes, add them to some water or juice, and after 10 minutes they have a smoothie without the need of a blender.” says Cesar.
“We want to have more of a scientific approach with this project. We are working with the University of West London on the product development side while also planning to engage nutritionists in future.”
Part of the grant will also be used to hire more staff: “We have four full-time member of staff and several agency staff, who are working full-time for at least six months of the year and having flexibility for the rest of it.”
Councillor Bassam Mahfouz, Ealing Council’s cabinet member for decent living incomes says: “As temperatures rise, it’s fantastic to have businesses that help keep us cool in the heart of the borough. Pioneering and innovative companies like Ice Kitchen basing their operations in Ealing is a huge scoop. They are an integral part of Ealing’s ambition to be THE place for aspiring businesses to grow and develop, as outlined in our Plan for Good Jobs. We are pleased to be able to support them in lots of different ways, including with this pioneers’ grant.”
You can follow Ice Kitchen on Instagram.
Get business updates from the council to learn about any upcoming business support or grants.