Baskin Robbins was once my go-to ice cream treat on special occasions. Its wide array of flavours seemed never-ending, yet after tasting them in stores, I would almost exclusively return to my favourite, mint choc chip.
This flavour is one you won’t find at Crème De La Crème (CDLC) though.
Lio and her business partner, Ken Liew explained that the strong minty taste of chocolate mint ice cream that most palettes are accustomed to is not possible to achieve without artificial flavours.
Adamant on using only au naturale ingredients, the founders told Vulcan Post that they are deeply passionate about handmaking all CDLC’s ice cream from scratch.
It goes without saying that they would forgo using preservatives, artificial flavourings, and colourings.
“For instance, do you know that our lavender ice cream is in its natural colour (dull grey) instead of the bright purple that other artificially coloured ice creams sport?” Lio pointed out. “At CDLC, the client should not, and does not, have to trade off their health for good taste,” Lio stated.
Inspired by childhood memories
Lio has always been known to her friends to have a penchant for soul food. Obsessed, she’s spent a year travelling the world, tasting high-end cuisine, street food, and desserts, in search of food that would create a warm fuzzy feeling in her tummy, as she described.
“And I came back to exactly where I started. Ice cream. Nothing comes close to what happy childhood memories are made of,” she affirmed, believing that most wouldn’t disagree with her.
Ken is a talented chef himself, once hand-picked by and trained under a celebrity dessert chef, Christy Tania in Australia.
It was clear in the partners’ minds that their brand would go big or go home. The philosophy at CDLC was set to be the cream of the crop by insisting on the best for their clients, from the flavours they create, down to the ingredients used.
All eyes on ice cream
When CDLC was new to the market in 2019, it garnered significant hype from the media and customers. I’ve observed the long queues outside their first store when driving down the streets of Uptown Damansara a few years back.
But now, it seems like the hype has calmed down. In spite of that, CDLC has since expanded moderately after three years of operations. Now present in five locations, each comes with its own unique array of ice cream flavours.
Probing Lio on what she thinks contributed to CDLC’s initial popularity, she shared that the team’s gratitude is owed to its customers, who hyped up the new kid on the block.
At the time, CDLC was coming into a market that Inside Scoop seemed to already lead. Piccoli Lotti was also present in the neighbourhood close by. These brands were serving a single scoop of their artisanal ice creams for roughly RM8 per scoop.
CDLC’s ice creams are priced above RM10 for a single scoop, so I had to find out from Lio how the brand justifies its prices. Or even, what is CDLC’s business model that made them confident to compete in the artisanal ice cream market?
For one, Lio points to the brand’s core value of allowing the brand’s artisans to work with the finest natural ingredients that are individually sourced.
“Second, you cannot call yourself an artist without creativity, imagination, and innovation,” Lio said. Beyond ice creams, CDLC has petits gâteaux (small ice cream cakes) that can take anywhere between six to 12 hours to create.
These creations are also the catalyst for CDLC’s multiple features in the media. Every other festivity, the brand would release intricate petits gâteaux that have imitated a hyper-realistic nasi lemak, an Easter bunny named Hops, and lover bears for Valentine’s Day.
Claiming to never have used paid reviews to advertise, CDLC appears to have leveraged creative projects that would drive word-of-mouth for people to share, try, and perhaps buy.
Addressing its comparatively higher price points, Lio justified, “Given what goes into our ice cream, our clients know they are getting the best value for quality, guilt-free ice cream that they can indulge in any time.”
Ice cream goes into Web3
On the subject of CDLC’s interesting projects that have drawn attention, the brand’s new NFT-themed outlet in Sunway Pyramid is a recent example of this. We’ve previously featured it in one of our weekly NFT news roundups.
The store aims to feature NFT collections including PunksVoxels and Dooggies, Kiwami Genesis, and Imaginary Ones. All these pieces are part of the ice cream chain’s extensive collection.
CDLC’s Sunway Pyramid store features NFT-inspired flavours too, based on popular NFT creators such as Bored Ape, CryptoPunk, and Doodles.
Besides just enjoyment of the dessert, the brand intends for its Sunway Pyramid ice cream parlour to be a collaborative space for the NFT community to immerse themselves.
It welcomes patrons to register their interest in sharing their NFTs on five dedicated LED display screens in the store. It also plans to host more NFT events to cement itself as an active player in the community.
Beyond this NFT outlet, the brand is also looking to go into Web3 in other ways too.
With three years in the market and five outlets now, I was perplexed to find that CDLC didn’t have a dedicated website, but Lio has good reason for this.
“Traditional media just doesn’t fit into our Web3 plans, which we knew right off the bat that we were going to embark on when we were ready. And the time is now,” she told me.
While she couldn’t share details about CDLC’s metaverse plans, the NFT-themed outlet is certainly already a step in the right direction.
Other than the virtual world, CDLC also intends to expand its operations around KL, a move that would open up more of the population to their creativity.
Featured Image Credit: Lio Lim, co-founder of Crème De La Crème