Given she’s a chef by trade, specifically trained in French cuisine, one might have expected Alana Coughlin to end up in a high-end restaurant after moving to London about two-and-a-half years ago for her husband’s job.
Things didn’t work out that way, but she couldn’t be happier with her culinary decision. After all, she now gets to deliver some of the most unique flavours of ice cream Londoners are likely to taste.
“I was looking for a niche, a certain lack in London, something my husband and I would enjoy and a business that would be appealing to the masses. So, I chose ice cream,” she said. “I choose to do it extremely well, hand-crafted, try to source it as much locally as I can. I get to know the farmers, the suppliers, I get to know London personally.”
Coughlin celebrated the first anniversary of her business, Haven’s Creamery (located at 226 Piccadilly St.) back on April 29.
Describing her first year as “unbelievably awesome,” Coughlin said she is “super-grateful” to London because she’s doubtful the opportunity to launch such a business would have been had in places like Calgary or Toronto, which were both options for the couple.
“We opened the doors and people came. People learned what we were all about and kept coming back,” Coughlin said. “The downtown has been so awesome to me. That’s one thing when I say I don’t know if I would have been as successful in those other cities. I’ve been able to join a community, a group of people, with the same idea of drawing people to the downtown core.”
Like pretty much every small business owner, Coughlin spends much of her time at work.
Although she wouldn’t have it any other way, she does enjoy getting away from the shop — even if her recreation tends to be about food too.
Coughlin readily admits to a pair of passions — travel and food. As she puts it, “I love food to its every fibre and core.”
As such, she’s always seeking out new places to eat and new experiences to enjoy.
Those adventures can be found in places like Calgary, Toronto or New York City, which happens to be her favourite place to travel to with the couple trying to get to the Big Apple least once a month.
That might sound “a little obscene,” as she puts it, but Coughlin’s husband is a pilot, which allows them the freedom to travel as much as they do.
“I’m totally spoiled in that aviation and food does work together that way,” she said. “I’m either cooking at home, looking at other places to try, watching cooking shows on TV; I’m totally obsessed. I truly, absolutely enjoy it.”
Making ice cream, it turns out, is surprisingly challenging.
Coughlin describes the process as an art, but she also says it’s about chemistry, textures and flavour profiles.
While there is certainly a technical aspect, Coughlin embraces the creativity that comes with exploring a world full of flavourful inspirations.
“We have one flavour I brought back for our anniversary, bourbon and cornflakes, also known as Grandpa’s Breakfast,” she said. “I saw it in San Francisco, tried it in a local, tiny ice cream shop, and thought it was just fabulous. It has the true burn of bourbon and a crunchy cornflake cookie behind it. It’s just wicked.”