Hospitality Business Magazine

Rescued cauliflowers become ice cream from HELL

It’s cauliflower but not as you know it – the humble vegetable is the hero ingredient in HELL’s newest plant-based offering, a unique ice cream made by Kiwi start-up EatKinda.

Launching nationwide across HELL’s 77 stores in Strawberry Swirl and Mint Choc Bikkie flavours, the ice cream is believed to be a world first of its type being made commercially. It includes the use of cauliflower that would otherwise go to waste purely for cosmetic reasons.

EatKinda is the brainchild of Jenni Matheson and Mrinali Kumar. The duo has gone from making ice cream on their kitchen bench to scaling up to commercial production to take their products nationwide with HELL.

A passionate vegan of more than 20 years, Matheson first came up with her cauliflower ice cream recipe while looking to use up vegetables from her garden.

“After initially trying pumpkin, and other vegetables I had grown, it quickly became clear that cauliflower was the perfect base. It has a beautiful texture without an overpowering taste, meaning you can create flavours easily,” she says.

Matheson took her recipe to a start-up weekend in Taranaki in 2020, where she met Kumar, who was completing a Bachelor of Food Technology at Massey University. EatKinda was soon born, making a premium ice cream that is creamy, delicious and, most importantly, plant-based.

Kumar says they use “rescued” cauliflower for their ice cream whenever possible, a deliberate decision given a large amount of New Zealand’s crops don’t even make it to the shelves.

“Apart from cosmetic imperfections, such as being the wrong size, an odd colour, or not pretty enough for the supermarkets, the cauli we use is completely fine to eat. We source it from suppliers including Perfectly Imperfect, a social enterprise that saves cosmetically imperfect food from rotting in the ground. It’s a win-win for everyone,” she says.

Callum Davies, founder of HELL and equally passionate about plant-based alternatives, says the team was amazed by how delicious the cauliflower ice cream was when they tasted it.

“It sounds like it will be good for you but not tasty – yet we were blown away and knew we had to offer it to our customers. We’re always pushing the envelope in offering plant-based alternatives and think people will be just in love with it as we are. It’s a pretty sweet aftertaste knowing that it’s dairy-free and uses rescued cauliflower,” he says.

Ben Cumming, CEO of HELL, says sustainability is one of the brand’s core values, which is why it’s important for them to support companies like EatKinda as they tackle issues around climate change and food waste.

“We’ve always been big on plant power – from our Burger Pizza using Impossible Beef to the recent Steak & Cheese Pie Pizza using Fable Steak (a mushroom alternative). For us, it’s about showcasing amazing plant-based alternatives and showing people that being kinder to the planet doesn’t mean compromising on taste.

“While we have very little food waste in our own HELL kitchens, it is a significant issue for the wider food industry, so we are thrilled to support EatKinda’s work in addressing that by adding their ice cream to our menu,” he says.

EatKinda wants to revolutionise the ice cream industry – changing how science and technology are used in the primary sector to create sustainable and animal-free sweet treats. Davies says HELL has been working closely with Matheson and Kumar to ready them for nationwide expansion, something he is familiar with after opening the first HELL store in Kelburn 27 years ago.

“It’s really hard building a business and a brand from nothing, so we are stoked we can share our knowledge and experience with another generation of Kiwi businesses. After hearing EatKinda’s story and tasting the ice cream, it was an easy decision for us to work with them to launch through our network and help take their business to the next stage,” he says