Ice cream pottery? The beguiling world of Charlie Harry Francis

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Interview with an ice cream entrepreneur

The days of ordering plain vanilla ice cream might be numbered. With virtually every middle-class British high street now housing a gelateria (that’s posh, Ok Italian, for ice cream parlour) purveying weird and Wonka-ish flavours from balsamic vinegar to coronation chicken, it can be hard to keep up with the gastronomic innovations currently assaulting sugar and cream.

Who could forget last year’s breast milk ice cream saga? The offending item was seized by Westminster Council worried that mothers’ milk might breach health and safety regulations. Heston Blumenthal (naturally) took inspiration from Spanish restaurant El Bulli’s parmesan ice cream, bringing his range of mustard flavour ices to the masses via Waitrose supermarket.

You can now choose from beetroot or crab sorbet, parsnip and wasabi and smoked oil and black pepper ice creams, even cigar-smoke caramel flavour for those nicotine addicts needing a sugar fix. But as if all this weren’t baffling and exciting enough there is a new kid in town: ice cream entrepreneur Charlie Harry Francis.

Instant ice cream of any flavour (so long as it's edible)

The 27-year-old knows a thing or two about ice cream having been born and raised on an ice cream farm in Wales. Two years ago he designed a contraption for creating instant ice cream, winning himself a £50,000 Barclays One Small Step competition in the process. His business (the modestly titled Lick Me I’m Delicious) is conjuring bespoke flavours in under a minute for guests at weddings, parties and corporate events. Quite simply, if it's edible (and available) he'll turn it into ice cream for you in under a minute.

“As a kid I loved that pudding where you mix different ice cream flavours together until it all goes really sloppy and then I’d put in all sorts of things my mother baked, like flapjacks and brownies, and make my own creations. Even then I wanted a way of making any flavour of ice cream. That was my aim,” he said.

But having achieved that aim, using a liquid nitrogen injection system that causes things to freeze rapidly and any materials thrown into the cream and sugar mixture to shatter into lots of pieces, bringing colour and flavour, he decided to start branch out. And for Francis, who hails “fun” as the most important ingredient of business, branching out means spinning ice cream on a potter’s wheel.

“It came out of a very bizarre conversation I had with this chap at a party,” Francis recalls. “He was a potter and I asked if he thought you could throw ice cream on a potter’s wheel. He said yes, which I didn’t really expect. He’s a ceramic artist based at Bath Spa University and so we took my ice cream contraption there and started throwing some pots, which bizarrely seemed to work.”

Francis has since developed a liquid nitrogen injection buggy (“It’s made from an airplane, an old plough and bits of fire engine. Top speeds of 6 miles per hour”) and is in the process of developing the world’s first glow in the dark ice cream using protein from jelly fish: “It works with neutral PH, so the glow is inactive until you lick it”.

Like the Jellymongers  Bompas and Parr, Francis is interested in the theatre of food. His aspiration, he says, is to become the maker “of confectionary contraptions” as well as ice cream. And with a team of engineers helping him build all manner of creative machinery, who knows what he’ll produce next. Shame there aren't any Oompa Loompas to help.

Charlie Harry Francis will be serving up ice cream pottery at the Experimental Food Society Banquet on Monday 19 November 2012;

Arts and Entertainment
The starship in Star Wars: The Force Awakens
filmsThe first glimpse of JJ Abrams' new film has been released online
The Speaker of the House will takes his turn as guest editor of the Today programme
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
The cast of Downton Abbey in the 2014 Christmas special
Arts and Entertainment
Jude Law in Black Sea


In Black Seahe is as audiences have never seen him before

Arts and Entertainment
Johnny Depp no longer cares if people criticise his movie flops


Arts and Entertainment
Scare tactics: Michael Palin and Jodie Comer in ‘Remember Me’

TVReview: Remember Me, BBC1
Arts and Entertainment
Carrie Hope Fletcher
booksFirst video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Damien Hirst
artCoalition's anti-culture policy and cuts in local authority spending to blame, says academic
Arts and Entertainment
A comedy show alumni who has gone on to be a big star, Jon Stewart
tvRival television sketch shows vie for influential alumni
Arts and Entertainment
Jason goes on a special mission for the queen
tvReview: Everyone loves a CGI Cyclops and the BBC's Saturday night charmer is getting epic
Arts and Entertainment
Image has been released by the BBC
Arts and Entertainment
Will there ever be a Friends reunion?
Harry Hill plays the Professor in the show and hopes it will help boost interest in science among young people
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
A Van Gogh sold at Sotheby’s earlier this month
Arts and Entertainment

MusicThe band accidentally called Londoners the C-word

Arts and Entertainment
It would 'mean a great deal' to Angelina Jolie if she won the best director Oscar for Unbroken

Film 'I've never been comfortable on-screen', she says

Arts and Entertainment
Winnie the Pooh has been branded 'inappropriate' in Poland
Arts and Entertainment
Lee Evans is quitting comedy to spend more time with his wife and daughter

Arts and Entertainment
American singer, acclaimed actor of stage and screen, political activist and civil rights campaigner Paul Robeson (1898 - 1976), rehearses in relaxed mood at the piano.
filmSinger, actor, activist, athlete: Paul Robeson was a cultural giant. But prejudice and intolerance drove him to a miserable death. Now his story is to be told in film...
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift is dominating album and singles charts worldwide

Arts and Entertainment
Kieron Richardson plays gay character Ste Hay in Channel 4 soap Hollyoaks

Arts and Entertainment
Midge Ure and Sir Bob Geldof outside the Notting Hill recording studios for Band Aid 30

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

    Christmas Appeal

    Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
    Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

    Is it always right to try to prolong life?

    Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
    Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

    What does it take for women to get to the top?

    Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
    Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

    Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

    Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
    French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

    French chefs campaign against bullying

    A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
    Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

    Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

    Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
    Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

    Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

    Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
    Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

    Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

    Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
    Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

    Paul Scholes column

    I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
    Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

    Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

    So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
    Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

    Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

    It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
    Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

    Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

    The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
    Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

    Sarkozy returns

    The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
    Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

    Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

    Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
    Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

    Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

    Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game