Jennie Cooper talks to Lucia Bly about the story behind her and husband Dan’s award-winning ice cream and chocolate business, Salcombe Dairy
To achieve cult status, you have to be pretty special. In the South Hams, Salcombe Dairy’s honeycomb ice cream and mango sorbet are the flavours to emulate. For 40 years, the company has been selling ice creams in Devon, then further afield in London and Kent, and a couple of years ago, on Singapore Airlines. There are 21 ice cream flavours, plus a mouthwatering range of six sorbets and frozen yoghurts. The company has used cream from the same farm on the Fallapit Estate since it started, and a few local businesses have also sourced ice cream from here since it set up.
Lucia and her husband, Managing Director, Dan Bly, became involved with Salcombe Dairy seven years ago and, despite the company’s huge ice cream success, quickly noticed a slower business period between November and March. “We had a plan,” says Lucia. “We rented out our farmhouse, and took ourselves and the children to Costa Rica and Peru to learn the craft of chocolate making and cacao sourcing. We are one of around only 15 companies in the country that make bean-to-bar chocolate,” explains Lucia. It was crucial that the chocolate was made to the award-winning standard of the ice cream. “Dan went to Italy and then Austria to hone his chocolate-making skills,” she adds.
What makes the chocolate special? “We grind the nibs for 72 hours and make sure the rainforest flavours remain. When we add our flavours, such as peppermint oil or sloes, we are very careful. Our range of chocolate bar flavours mirror those of our ice cream,” explains Lucia.
Sustainability is key. “Now the company has a year-round selling period, we can keep staff employed even outside of the summer months,” says Lucia. “In terms of packaging, we’ve just managed to source plastic-fee lids for our 1m pots that are delivered to airlines, and we now have compostable spoons,” she adds.
A weekend of celebrations kicks off with a birthday party on 6 June, with a spectacular ice cream cake! Here’s to the next 40 years!
Taste Buds is published by We Make Magazines, a family-owned Devon company. Taste Buds is produced using Devon-based writers, chefs, photographers and sales team. It is printed on environmentally friendly paper.
… just like the food we write about, Taste Buds is lovingly made using the finest local ingredients!
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Jeff Cooper: 01626 871161
Jennie Cooper: 01626 871161
Julie Hutchins: 07843 621463
The SepOct issue of Taste Buds is out now