Alice Cherng and Belinda Wei believed a vegan ice cream shop with flavors that celebrate both their American and Taiwanese upbringings was a far-fetched dream. After working at LA’s vegan chain Cafe Gratitude, the pair felt the dairy-free ice cream options available to them were lackluster—so they decided to make their own.
“We just started testing for fun and thought we’ll maybe sell it at the farmers’ market or an ice cream push car,” Cherng explains. But as soon as they finalized their recipe, a space on Vine Street in Los Angeles opened up. “It felt serendipitous—for us to come up with this idea and then have everything fall into place afterwards,” Wei says. That was nearly five years ago.
Dear Bella Creamery was originally known as Cocobella Creamery, a name that referenced the coconut milk-base that formerly made up all the ice creams. Now, the coconut milk ice creams are joined by flavors crafted with oat milk and sunflower butter—a recipe that results in undeniably creamy frozen desserts that remain dairy-free. Cherng and Wei want to banish the notion that vegan ice cream is chalky or icy. “We didn’t want something that tasted necessarily healthy. We’d rather have something that tastes pleasurable,” Cherng explains. After all, ice cream—vegan or not—is still ice cream. “Ultimately, ice cream is a science. It doesn’t necessarily matter what kind of fat or carbs or sugar are in it, but it’s the balance of everything together and the ratio.”
Wei, who attended culinary school and is the recipe developer, has been able to find the equilibrium that makes for a silky, plant-based ice cream. “There are just so many new types of sciences coming out to help with the consistency of different food products so we’re always on the search for that,” she says. “Because we source premium ingredients, you can really taste the quality of it.”