To celebrate the launch of Prana Chai Ice Cream, we had a cup of Chai with Peter Panag, owner of Williamstown Ice Cream Factory and Wills Batch Ice Creameries in Victoria and creators of our brand new ice cream.
Tell us a bit about The Williamstown Ice Cream FactoryWe’re ice cream makers who love traditional ice cream and everything that goes with that. Our business traces its origins to a humble beachside ice creamery that opened in 1981. Nowadays we're one of Australia’s longest running boutique ice cream makers but not much has changed. We
still start before dawn on the shore of Hobsons Bay with the days first churn. Our ice cream is served in five star hotels, cinemas, fine dining restaurants, gourmet provedores and ice creameries. We also serve our ice cream in our Will’s Batch Ice Creameries. We’re a close-knit team who’ve been working together for many years, are inspired by food and care for our little corner of the world.
Our ice cream is inspired from a time when ice cream tasted like actual ice cream. Our ice cream is made from scratch to our own original recipes. Our style is simple, unmasked and bare of overdone mix-ins so the essence of each flavour can be savoured. We take our time, slow down our process and let each batch fully age. Each batch takes four days to prepare. Of course generic ready made imported product can be made within an hour, but it’s simply not the same.
What gives you a point of difference to other ice cream?
Without question the most satisfying part of what we do is the wonderful reaction we get when our ice cream is served. It never ceases to amaze just what a simple cone can do for the spirit and the lasting memories it creates. It’s humbling to know that decades from now people will remember a trip to the ice creamery with a loved one, those moments are special for all of us.
What's been the most challenging and most rewarding part of your career/business?
The most challenging part of our day is finding time to do everything we want to do.
My father always said a fisherman won’t catch fish unless he gets his pants wet. Although I knew what he meant I never understood why; as the first time he’d ever seen the ocean was on a ship that brought him here and also because I never liked fish. It’s a valuable message all the same.
What's the best advice you were given or gave to someone?
The best advice I can offer is to follow the Golden Rule and remember that every stick has two ends.
How often do you eat ice cream and what's your favourite flavour?
Everyday without exception and usually mid morning. I typically blend our Dark Chocolate and Double Shot Espresso ice creams and pass it off as my mocha treat. It’s become a little morning ritual I look forward to. However, my favourite flavour has always been Butterscotch.
Honourable mention here to our Cream Vanilla which takes me back to my childhood when mum would reward my brother and I with three perfectly round scoops topped with sliced peaches and syrup straight out of the tin.
You've recently created a delicious Prana Chai ice cream, can you share the process creating this flavour?
Working with the Prana Chai team is a pleasure as our values and passion align perfectly. We often collaborate with leading food producers to create unique small batch flavours and find that at it’s essence it’s always about the quality of the ingredients. Without question Prana Chai is simply the finest we’ve ever used.
The challenge for us was to capture the taste of cold brew Prana Chai as a full body traditional ice cream. To do so we infused the chai overnight in a refrigerated setting and then slow churned it in our original recipe whole dairy base. We then froze the batch for 12 hours at -33C to settle the ice cream in it’s static form without agitation. The batch was then aged for a further 48 hours at -26C. We’re thrilled with the final result and believe it’s a truthful frozen interpretation of the finest chai available anywhere.
Is there a big goal you're working towards over the next year?
The wonderful thing with ice cream is that there are always new boundaries to cross. There’s a number of interesting flavours we’ve created which we’re keen to share. There’s also a range of ice cream sandwiches and choc tops we would like to (re)introduce. More importantly and just like everyone else we’re looking forward to returning to a pre CV-19 world where we can shake hands and hug.