They’ve created a monster

When we learned that two Chicago alumni were opening a state-of-the-art ice cream laboratory in Chicago’s Wicker Park neighborhood, we knew that this was an assignment that needed in-depth investigation (all in the name of good reporting, of course).

The mad scientists behind iCream Café—which opened Saturday—are Cora Shaw, MBA’07, and Jason McKinney, MBA’06, who met as students at Chicago Booth.

Shaw expects the shop will be brimming with new customers and employees, but it was nearly empty during our sneak preview on Friday—aside from a few curious people, the only ones behind the counter were Shaw, general manager Liz, and Neil Schinske, a representative from Cryotech International, who was there to confirm all was right with the café’s key ingredient: liquid nitrogen. Injected into a mix of milk and cream or yogurt, it freezes the icy treats within minutes. The liquid evaporates, and the crystals are much smaller than in regular ice cream or frozen yogurt, which creates a smooth and creamy texture. It’s essentially a science experiment for food lovers.

Indecisive people beware: the menu is fully customizable and offers myriad combinations. First, choose your base: ice cream, frozen yogurt, sorbet, hot pudding, Italian soda, or a shake. Then select up to three flavors, which are injected into a beaker via syringe (the science-experiment ambiance doesn’t end with the liquid nitrogen). Fancy purple ice cream? The truly brave can inject food-safe coloring into their creation. And once the sweet treat has been created, top it off with candy. Lactose-intolerant patrons needn’t feel left out: soy-milk ice cream is an option, which Shaw says tastes much like real ice cream thanks to the liquid nitrogen.

Because we are dedicated to service journalism, these enterprising reporters sampled chocolate-and-peanut-butter frozen yogurt, mint-chocolate-chip ice cream, burnt-sugar-and-cinnamon hot pudding (with a dash of purple food coloring), and pomegranate Italian soda—the perfect way to spend the first spring-like day in months. We returned to the office with full stomachs and sugar highs.

Elizabeth Chan and Ruth E. Kott, AM’07

iCream Cafe toppings and flavors

iCream Café is located at 1537 North Milwaukee Avenue.
Bring your U of C ID card and receive 10 percent off your purchase.

March 9, 2009