Think Ice Cream is Unhealthy? Ben Ungermann Will Change Your Mind

The MasterChef Australia 9 runner-up is not dubbed Ice Cream King for nothing

Shraddha Varma

Model-turned-celebrity chef Ben Ungermann missed taking home the MasterChef Australia trophy in 2017 by a mere point, but this didn't prove to be turbulent for his culinary flight. While his immediate plans after the cooking reality show were to open a Dutch café dedicated to his grandmother, fans of the 'Ice Cream King', a moniker Ungermann earned on MasterChef Australia 9, would have none of it.

Giving in to the demand, the 34-year-old opened a gourmet
ice cream parlour, Ungermann Brothers, in his hometown Ipswich on Australia Day, January 26, 2018. A year on, the ice cream parlour boasts 32 ice cream flavours and patrons from across Australia and the world who can watch the ice cream as it's being made. That they are "100 per cent natural and packed with beautiful flavours" is what sets the ice creams apart, claims Ungermann.

Health-conscious Chef

His buff and fit physique is enough proof that the celebrity chef treats his body like a temple, but Ungermann considers the health of his patrons from a similar purview. "I have three children, so I take great interest in what I am serving," the chef told a leading daily newspaper during one of his many visits to India. "If they are going to eat something, it has to be natural. When you serve people food, you have the responsibility to do that," he added.

Ice creams have earned a bad rep thanks to the ready-to-eat, packaged ice creams available in supermarkets. "They contain stabilisers that can withstand heat," explains the chef, who makes sure his ice creams are free of "nasties" like stabilisers, thickeners, colours and preservatives. "When you use good, fresh produce without additives, ice cream is the best possible thing you can feed your body," says Ungermann, who believes ice cream is an all-time universal favourite food. While most other ice creams are made using cooked crème anglaise, Ungermann says he makes his ice cream with a chilled crème anglaise. "We first beat the
eggs and sugar well to lighten them, then we add the milk and cream after which we incorporate the different flavours," he explains.

Also Read: 7 things you didn’t know about celebrity chef Sarah Todd

Flavour Experiments

Ungermann's favourite thing about making ice cream is experimenting with unique flavour pairings including savoury ingredients that you wouldn't have imagined in ice cream. Roast garlic scoop and strawberry balsamic are some of the flavours you can expect to find at Ungermann's ice cream parlour in Australia. "We sell whacky flavours," he says and adds, "My most offbeat ice cream combinations are lavender-honeycomb and pumpkin seed oil-vanilla." The one he is most proud of is the carrot cake ice cream "which is completely organic". Meanwhile, the salted caramel bacon pecan ice cream is the most popular and fastest selling ice cream at his parlour.

The secret to good ice cream is "understanding flavour combinations and getting the right balance," reveals the chef. In collaboration with Nestlé Milkmaid, Ungermann hosted an ice cream master class in January 2019 at World on a Plate, India's largest gourmet food
festival, in Mumbai. Apart from doling out tips on making the perfect scoop of ice cream, Ungermann demonstrated how Nestlé Milkmaid, the country's favourite ingredient for dessert recipes, can be used to make ice cream. "It is a versatile product, and I designed three desserts for the brand using it, one of which is the Milkmaid Almond ice cream," says Ungermann.

Also Read: LF caught up with Marco Pierre White during his first visit to India

Ungermann Ice Creams in India

The accidental ice cream wizard believes Indians would especially appreciate his ice creams considering the Indian love for kulfi. Ungermann, who has tasted three varieties of kulfi and loved pistachio the most, says, “I know Indians love to have sweets on most days, so I see the opportunity to bring them some of my ice creams as a unique, natural and fresh take on the local kulfi they are used to consuming." The Indian ingredient he is waiting to experiment with is cardamom. "It can be used in both sweet and savoury recipes," says Ungermann, who has also made coriander ice cream, and adds, "Cardamom can bring a lot of interesting flavours if used sparingly and sensibly."

After Australia, Ungermann's largest following comes from India, particularly Mumbai and
Bengaluru, and the love is mutual. He is now toying with the idea of bringing Ungermann Brothers to Bengaluru, and says, "I believe Bengaluru is open to unique foods which is a great fit for me as I don’t tend to do anything mainstream.”

Not only the country and its people, but Indian food has caught Ungermann's fancy too.
Idli was one of the first food items he tried when he visited India. "I had never eaten anything like it before and I loved it," he exclaims. The next goal on Ungermann’s culinary bucket list is to “try my hands at fusing Indian food with European”. He signs off by saying, “I think Indian food is delicious but not well appreciated by the Western world.”

Image courtesy: Instagram/Ben Ungermann Official Account


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