Sweet taste of success for ice cream venture
An ice cream business that started a year ago has hit a sweet spot with customers and is looking to expand into the US market.
In the space of 12 months Alex & Pete's Bermuda Artisan Ice Cream has extended its range of flavours to 14, which includes some sherbets and sorbets, and nearly all of them have a Bermuda twist.
Island visitors have shown a particular fondness for the Rum Swizzle and St George's black rum & ginger (a Dark n' Stormy-inspired combination) flavours, while locals have been snapping up the handcrafted ice cream from an increasing number of outlets across the Island.
So it is no wonder that ice cream makers Peter Jovetic and his son Alex are smiling. They have been making ice cream for many years, but only started to sell their creations last August. The receptive response from customers has led to further flavour innovations.
“My idea has been to keep introducing new flavours,” said Mr Jovetic, explaining that he is working on a pistachio brittle flavour and a Bermuda rum cake ice cream.
A number of grocery stores are supporting the venture, not only by stocking the artisan treats, but also coming up with a flavour combination that they can sell exclusively in their stores. Lindo's has a rum and banana flavour, while Harrington Hundreds has a glutton-free chocolate and brownie chunk flavour.
Mr Jovetic is the owner of the Food4Thought catering business, based in St George. He is a pastry chef and has worked in a number of roles at a variety of establishments including Fairmont Southampton's Newport Room, the Newstead Belmont Resort, and Port O Call, in Hamilton.
He started making ice cream as a way to strengthen bonds with his son Alex, who has cerebral palsy and autism. Alex showed a flair for creating hand-produced ice cream. After creating the original flavour, Alex's vanilla, Mr Jovetic and his son began to experiment with other ingredients.
Mr Jovetic noticed that in Bermuda Ben & Jerry's and Haagen-Dazs were the dominant ice cream brands for sale in stores. He wanted to produce a locally made, high-quality artisan ice cream to widen the choice for customers, while adding a selection of Bermuda-inspired flavours.
His son, who lives in Britain, continues to play a key part in developing and approving new flavours. His current favourite is the Nuts for Nutella variety.
“If Alex likes the flavour then we go ahead with it,” said Mr Jovetic.
Alex & Pete's old fashioned pineapple sherbet is an attempt to recreate the taste of Simmons Pineapple Sherbet, an Island favourite that vanished many years ago.
Mr Jovetic interviewed about 200 Bermudians to see what they could remember about the flavour and texture of the sherbet. Then he set to work trying to recreate as close a match as possible.
“That was a trip. On the 38th attempt I came up with the final product,” he said.
Alex & Pete's ice cream has a rich taste, which reflects the very low percentage of overrun it includes. Ice cream overrun refers to the amount of air pushed into the ice cream when it is being made. A high percentage of overrun creates a fluffy ice cream with low density due to the amount of air that has been pumped into it. However, Alex & Pete's Bermuda Artisan Ice Cream has only 10 per cent overrun.
“This quality of ice cream you can't find anywhere else,” said Mr Jovetic.
The “inclusions” added to the ice cream to create the various flavours range from chunks of banana and pineapple, to raisins-steeped in rum, pieces of mint-flavoured Aero chocolate bars and caramel.
Seasonal flavours have included an eggnog, and an eggnog and rum combination, for Christmas, and a pumpkin flavour around Halloween, using locally grown pumpkins.
Mr Jovetic is an advocate for using Bermuda-produced products in the ice cream, and has partnered with Outerbridge Peppers Ltd to produce the Rum Swizzle flavour using Outerbridge's Original Bermuda Rum Swizzle Mix and Gosling's Black Seal Rum.
There is an art to successfully making an ice cream that contains alcohol. To ensure it freezes correctly a mathematical formula must be applied when the ingredients are combined.
Once made, Alex & Pete's ice cream is immediately blast frozen to prevent water crystals forming, and then it is kept in a holding freezer before delivery to shops and cafés.
This year's good summer has helped boost sales. “Sales have been excellent,” said Mr Jovetic.
Stores across the Island have been stocking the range, and some businesses have been hiring out Alex & Peter's traditional ice cream cart for special events.
Mr Jovetic refers to the ice cream business as a labour of love.
“The fun part is playing with the flavours,” he added. “We are looking at selling in other locations, and we're working to produce the Bermuda flavours in the States.”