Like most young people, Chul Cho had a dream. For years he had been telling his friends that he would start an ice cream business and for years, nothing happened. And like most young people, he got caught up in the real world, working and paying bills. Fortunately for us, he decided in May of this year that all the talking was done and Inside Scoop Creamery was born.
Chul started his journey after high school. He went to Santa Monica College where he studied academic subjects to try his hand at a collegiate education. Then, after a lot of self-hating and inner-debate, he decided to go to culinary school. So, he began his stint at Le Cordon Bleu in Pasadena and finally graduated in 2009 with an education in pastries.
Like most young, newly-minted chefs, he had dreams of being big. He thought that money would be falling from the skies and doors would open up to him, not unlike the stories that are told on TV on any of the hundreds of the reality cooking shows. “A lot of people think they’re going to make a lot of money right off. This is false. The truth is you’re gonna start at $10 bucks an hour with a lot of off-the-clock time that you don’t get paid for,” says Chul of his early days at Wilshire Restaurant in Santa Monica.
In 2010, Chul started work as a pastry cook at the Farm Shop in Brentwood. The bakery/restaurant offered a wide range of pastries and other baked goods which kept Chul’s skills up. All the while, the little voice inside his head kept reminding him that his ultimate goal of starting an ice cream business had yet to be realized. As his career prospects started to improve, he never let himself forget that one day, he would need to take the plunge and start realizing his vision. Then in 2013, he secured a position as the pastry chef for AXE in Venice. It was at this time, he got inspired. He started testing various flavor combinations, knowing that the day for his dream had come.
In May of this year, Chul took the dive. He sold most of his painstakingly-built shoe collection to secure his first piece of equipment, a gelato machine. All in all, he spent roughly $2,500 USD on getting everything he needed to make ice cream from home including refrigeration, kitchen utensils, and ingredients for his first batch of ice cream. Fortunately, he had years of experience under his belt and was armed with the knowledge and craft he needed to make his first hit which he dubbed “London Fog.” (London Fog was Chul’s interpretation of tea-based ice cream, his twist however, was the addition of vanilla bean.)
Suffice it to say, it was a hit. From that point on, he started releasing a new flavor every two weeks and advertising through Facebook to family and friends. Soon, he was taking orders from 40 to 60 customers, of which the lion’s share would order two pints, but what to do? He didn’t have a store. He didn’t have the means to ship everything to his customers… Like a true American, he decided he would do it on his own. Just like that, he started a home delivery service, using his off days as his delivery days.
So three flavors later, here’s where we are. He’s been honing his craft for this long and it looks like there’s nowhere to go but up. Chul charges $10 USD for each pint of ice cream he sells and it is well worth it. I still remember when he made his first delivery to my house. It was a Monday afternoon, I got the call and walked out to my gate where Chul was, cooler in the passenger seat, in his coupe, ready to drop off my two pints of Blueberry ice cream. I dug out a fat chunk with a spoon and immediately, I knew this was something special.
Now, Chul believes in quality over quantity. That’s why he uses only the best ingredients and chose to create a thick, heavy, and rich gelato over the traditionally made airy ice cream. He goes out every Thursday night to secure the freshest ingredients from vendors and begins his journey toward his Monday delivery date. Each night starting Thursday, he creates two batches of ice cream which are then left to cool and freeze over the next 24 – 36 hours. He does this every night until Sunday, then once they’re all frozen, begins deliveries. This means that the ice cream you get on Monday was made probably on Thursday night and based on the cooling/freezing time his recipe calls for, it will literally only be a day or two old when it gets into your grubby hands.
So far, Chul has been able to juggle his two commitments. By his estimation, he’s working roughly 50 hours a week at AXE then about 25 to 30 hours on sourcing ingredients, making ice cream, and delivering it. For those of you keeping track. that’s basically 2 full time jobs. Is it tiring? Yes. Is it hard? Yes. He would be the first to admit it, but ask him if he regrets it, and he’ll undoubtedly say that he doesn’t. So why does he do it? Simple, he loves ice cream. “I’ve always told my friends that I wanted to do this and never got around to it. One day, I woke up and realized that I needed to do this now or it would never happen.”
What now? Well Chul has big plans. He wants to keep the home delivery service running while working, but ultimately, he would like to create an ice cream subscription service, have a real staff, have a real kitchen, and work more on the development side to create more unique and delicious flavor combinations. What about his pastry career? Well, Chul had this to say, “If I ever do make this a full time thing, I will probably walk away from the pastry side of the business, but for now, I still have so much to learn on both sides.”
So all you aspiring chefs out there, take notes! Hard work is inescapable and if Chul has any advice for you it would be to “intern at a restaurant before you start culinary school to see if you actually like it. There are so many people that go to school then quit within a year because it isn’t what they thought it would be.”
Thank you Chul, from all of us at NSB and all of us fans in the LA area. If you would like more information about how to order, check out the Inside Scoop Creamery Facebook Fan Page. As of this writing, Chul has opened up orders for his newest creation dubbed “Southern Comfort” which is a blend of dark brown sugar, butter-toasted pecans, and a hint of bourbon (which I’m guessing is the “comfort” part of this experience). For those not in the LA area, you’re out of luck but hopefully, one day soon, we will be able to order these online and have them shipped direct! Until then, feel free to drool over the pics on his site!