We hung out with Hui Ming of Fat Baby Ice Cream, to checkout what her day is like and listen to how she got from actuarial science, to an ice cream parlour...
Living the ice cream dream...
Many of us have a dream. You know: the one in your head where you leave all your current pursuits behind and go to pursue, regardless of the many trials and tribulations. Unfortunately not many of us have the opportunity or means to actually go for it. For the ones that do, however, it can pay off big time. This is the story of Hui Ming, Ice Cream Maker...
Fat Baby Ice Cream is an ice cream parlour located in SS15, Subang Jaya. Curiously, it only opens on Friday to Sunday. The rest of the time, the doors are closed. But behind those closed doors, The Ice Cream Maker is working her magic.
Hui Ming used to study and work in the UK as an actuarist. We know, we know: how did she go from that to ice cream? Those two fields seem as different as cats and dogs are to one another! In the end though, the reason was pretty simple: love. She loves LOVES loves ice cream. "It was always my dream to have my own ice cream shop," Hui Ming said. So she learnt how to make them from a culinary school and began making loads of ice creams. "it was heaven!" she admits.
When she came back to KL she bought a small ice cream machine and made her own frozen concoctions at home. Then she started giving them away and people were raving about her home-made ice creams, so lo and behold, about a year ago she opened Fat Baby Ice Cream in Subang Jaya. "SS15 is definitely a good location... and I'm not even located in the main streets," says Hui Ming, whose shop is literally across the road from Kapten Steamboat and in the same row as Grafa Cafe.
This is the shop!
The dream though, wasn't as easy to come by as it seemed. Hui Ming had to sort out location, overheads and source the expensive machines for her to work her magic. And most of the time, she and her assistant(s) are making ice cream to supply to cafes and restaurants in and around KL and as far away as Penang. This is why the shop is only open to customers during the weekends: most of the time, they're busy manufacturing ice creams for distribution.
As for the name, it is actually a reference to her. "I was a fat baby!" Hui Ming laughs. "Fat babies are the healthiest. It's the skinny ones you should worry about!"
What is it like to be an ice cream maker? Well, her day starts at around 7am when she rolls into the her kitchen. An assistant will join her and from there, they check out their orders and what needs to be fulfilled. We actually caught up with Hui Ming as she made a fresh batch of sweet cream ice cream.
Her ice cream starts off as cream, milk, eggs and sugar. She whisks the sugar and eggs until fluffy, before adding in the cream and milk which has been heated separately. This process is called tempering.
"If we add in the hot milk in one go, the eggs will curdle. You'll get sweet scrambled eggs instead of a smooth custard." This custard mixture is the base for any flavour of ice cream.
This custard mixture then goes into a churning machine where it will... well, churn, for about 30 minutes.
Hui Ming adds the base to churn
The result is a silky smooth, luxurious ice cream base. It is to this base that Hui Ming will add in flavours such as fruit, nuts or even cereals and candy bars.
Mmmm ice cream....
Her personal favourite flavour is a Cornflakes ice cream. "It took me awhile to get that recipe right. I experimented with different brands of cornflakes and different ratios of cereal to milk. I really wanted to get that Saturday-morning-bowl-of-cornflakes-while-you-watch-cartoons flavour just right. "But it's quite a laborious flavour to make so it's only available occasionally!" laughs Hui Ming.
The Lady of Ice Creams
She also uses only the best ingredients. "It's important to me that all the ingredients be full-fat, full cream," she laughs. "I don't buy into the supposedly healthy low fat stuff. I want my ice cream to have that luscious, luxurious and decadent texture and flavour. I can only get that through using the best quality cream and milk and ingredients." When it comes to ice cream, Hui Ming doesn't compromise.
"It's ice cream," she said. "It should be all out, no holds barred."
Fat Baby has a good mix of flavours. Favourites such as chocolate, vanilla and strawberry as well as salted caramel as available most times. Then she rotates some unique flavours depending on mood or if the kitchen is experimenting.
Some of the available flavours...
Flavours that have been served at Fat Baby include orange and chocolate, Earl Grey and sometimes candy-bar flavours: Mars, Bounty or Snickers. They also do mean waffles, freshly pressed and served when someone orders them.
Waffles and ice cream - great combo!
Hui Ming's ice creams are flavour bombs. She doesn't hold back with the flavours and they're all bold tasting and delicious. The texture of the ice cream is splendidly thick and luscious, and they don't melt too easily too. This makes it different from places like Inside Scoop, where the ice cream is smoother and more gelato-like in texture.
Have a scoop or two of any flavour. They're all good.
So what is it like to live a dream? "It's a tough job. It's definitely not all rainbows and sunshine. The costs can be big, and most times I'm here at the kitchen and shop. It's definitely not something you can just take up and expect to be good at or become successful straight away. By far labour is the most challenging aspect. It's difficult to find good hands nowadays," Hui Ming said.
Happy where she belongs.
"But I'll persevere. I love ice cream too much. This is where I belong now."