Happy National Ice Cream Day! While I am away in the bustling city of Hong Kong right now, it doesn’t mean that I’ve forgotten to celebrate this awesome day that gives all an excuse to eat ice cream till there’s no tomorrow! 🙂 In celebration of this day, I would love to introduce to you the owner of one of the top ice cream stores in New York City. Meet Christina Seid from the Chinatown Ice Cream Factory. She has a huge heart for the community and runs a blog that confirms her passion for giving back and for her business. Recently, she awarded three students from the Lower East Side prep high school with scholarships for contributing to the Lower East Side and Chinatown. “I have never been so moved by a graduation!” she explained. While chatting over some condensed milk on toast and sipping tea at a local restaurant, Christina shared her story with me again about her store! Enjoy this read of a glimpse from our conversation!
There is so much history to this food landmark! Can you tell us about the roots of the Chinatown Ice Cream Factory?
Before it became CICF, it was a cafe, then a candy shop, but that failed. My dad was really innovative. He opened up CICF in 1977, creating cookies and cream, lychee, mango, green tea… It was a big deal back then. Ice cream was a luxury and big shops such as Carvel were starting to open. I’ve grown up in the business and till today, my dad and I are the only ones who make the ice cream in the back.
Chinatown has changed a lot since then, and some might even argue that it is losing its roots. How do you feel about all the changes?
People are leaving but we still keep in touch with all the families in the previous stores with the changes in Chinatown. The bond is still very strong. I grew up in Little Neck and I was the only Chinese person. I know Chinatown has changed but to be honest, it used to be rough and dangerous but is now super safe. It wasn’t rosy back then as people think it was and I think you have to see the changes from both sides. It’s not necessarily bad. Business people also have to pay a lot for the rent now.
How do you create the ice cream flavors that your store offers today? What would be your favorite?
Flavors take a lot of thought and preparation. We want it to be delicious and part of someone’s life, not just a flavor on a checklist. When it comes to creating flavors, I try different things based on what I eat when I go out or maybe what I think would be popular. Sometimes we take suggestions. My personal favorite is the almond cookie. But it also depends on my mood. If I’m hungry I may get taro because it’s more wholesome!
I’ve discovered that you’re a huge foodie, too! Tell us a bit about yourself and what you love to eat and to do!
Yes I am! I actually want to polish all of the Michelin star restaurants in New York. I’ve already done some in San Francisco, Las Vegas, and Chicago. I love my job and I feel that I am an entrepreneur by nature. I want to build and tear things down or make things better. I love reading business magazines, and I love to create things!
Christina really has a huge heart for giving back to the community and it shows in everything that she does. If you haven’t gone to the Chinatown Ice Cream Factory, do stop by at Bayard Street, Chinatown for some Asian-inspired flavors such as taro, lychee, black sesame, or green tea as well as some other fun flavors (they had chocolate bacon once, and it was pretty darn unique!)
Thank you Christina, for a fun meet up!