Her customers labelled it the “best”, the “smoothest”, the “most perfect” ice-cream. Emma Riddell is leaving her mark in the Edinburgh ice-cream scene with her MOO PIE Gelato on wheels – or rather on her bike, Berty. Summer is fast approaching and we can't wait to try MOO PIE's mouth-watering flavours!
We chatted with Emma about her background in food science, coming up with new, unexpected flavours, being the recipient of the much sought-after Transmit loan, and her plans for the future.
Q: Other than the owner of MOO PIE you're also a nutritionist. Do you use your knowledge of nutrition in your ice-cream making?
A: Yes! But not necessarily in the sense of making gelato healthier. I believe gelato should be a dense, delicious, full-sugar, full-fat affair, but understanding the science behind recipe balancing is very important. In order to produce a smooth, creamy gelato, with the correct amount of overrun (the incorporated air), it is essential to balance the fats, sugars and solids within a recipe. My background in food science, allows me to understand the role in which each compound plays and compensates correctly for additional flavours, keeping the recipe balanced and making sure each batch is the best in the biz!
Q: What made you go for street food rather than a traditional ice-cream parlour?
A: During the initial planning phase, I knew that I wanted MOO PIE to be all about the product. In the first years of business, I attempted to minimise financial commitment, so
I opted for investing in machines and equipment that would aid me in producing the best gelato I could. I figured, if it was good, then the bricks and mortar may come."
In addition, street food is actually an amazing scene to be part of! I had never met a nicer bunch of people!
Q: Summer is coming: do you have any new recipes you are going to try for the new season?
A: Yes, we do! Recently, we trialled Eton Mess, made using a fior di latte base, rippled with our in-house fresh Scottish strawberry and balsamic sauce, and then studded with chewy meringue. Another recipe I am keen to try is rhubarb and custard, a rhubarb and sweet cicely sorbet mixed with a creamy custard base, true homage to the boiled sweet classic.
We intend to keep it seasonal throughout the summer, taking full advantage of and using as much fresh produce as possible."
Q: That sounds delicious! And do you have any specials on your menu at the moment?
A: I like to mix up my menu getting as creative as I can. Trialling flavours is definitely where it gets exciting. This month, I am making a special flavour designed by the pupils of South Morningside After School Club. It’s called Popcorn Madness and it’s a mix of popcorn gelato with a buttery caramel ripple, topped with salted and caramel popcorn.
Q: This one seems super yummy as well! But what is your favourite flavour?
A: Well! It's quite tricky to pick a favourite, but if I had to I'd say a dark beer mixed with chocolate or coffee. A while ago, I made a porter rippled with chocolate fudge in collaboration with Edinburgh-based Barney's Beer. It was so moreish and a totally unexpected flavour. Another amazing combination I tried was blueberry buttermilk and lemon curd. Complete rogue but turned out delish!
Q: I read you were one of the recipients of the Transmit loan for start-ups. What role did the loan have in setting up your company?
A: Receiving the transmit loan was a huge turning point in the MOO PIE Gelato story! The loan enabled us to purchase some of the best equipment in gelato production and allowed us to move forward in our mission to produce high quality artisan gelato. For us - and I'm sure many others - the loan is not only a means to start their business, but also provides security and financial reassurance, which is a life saver for many businesses within their first few years of trading.
Q: What is your advice for young people who would like to follow a similar path and open their own business?
A: Firstly, I would recommend getting a good feel for the area of business where you would like to operate. Speak to people, make connections, and work within the area. This will serve you for opening your own business. Next, have a good support system around you. It will be tough and any support you have will be a life saviour at times. Lastly,
if you want to start your own business, do it. Just do it. Go out, research and get excited."
At times, it may seem like one of the worst decisions of your life, but ultimately it will be one of the best as you learn new things and get job satisfaction!
Q: What are your plans for the future?
A: My plans are to keep working away, attending as many events and festivals as possible. For the future, I hope to move into the take-away tubs and wholesale market. For now, my intention is to stick with my wee bike Berty, but I would definitely like to move to a permanent location, creating an open gelato laboratory so that customers can see the gelato production!
To stay up to date with MOO PIE at events & on social:
26th May @ Canteen, Archerfield Walled Garden
2nd & 3rd June @ Meadows Festival
16th June @ The Pitt
21st - 24th June @ Royal Highland Show
7th & 8th July @ Bowhouse
Facebook: MOO PIE Gelato
#strEATtalk is our narrative series that shines a spotlight on Scotland's culinary scene, focusing on the journeys and stories of up and coming food innovators. Follow #strEATtalk as we get to know the people who are making our nation taste better!