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November 25, 2015

Spotlight: Van Leeuwen

Photo Credit: Sidney Bensimon

Editors' Notes

The new Van Leeuwen ice cream shop in downtown Los Angeles.

Photo Credit: Sidney Bensimon

Editors' Notes

Salted Caramel scoops at the new Van Leeuwen ice cream shop in downtown Los Angeles.

Photo Credit: Sidney Bensimon

Editors' Notes

Cherry peppercorn scoops at the new Van Leeuwen ice cream shop in downtown Los Angeles.

Need the perfect scoop of ice cream to pair with your expertly-crafted pie? Look no further than downtown Los Angeles’ newest addition, Van Leeuwen. The company based around made-from-scratch scoops containing fresh milk and cream, cane sugar and egg yolks started in New York in 2008, and now includes trucks on both coasts, pints at gourmet grocery stores, and shops in N.Y. and now also in L.A. Co-founder Pete Van Leeuwen says the “easily achievable, simple joy” of consuming and producing ice cream drew him to the business, as well as the idea of creating clean recipes. He founded the company in Brooklyn with his brother Ben Van Leeuwen and Laura O’Neill, and Van Leeuwen quickly expanded the flavor list to include vegan offerings crafted from cashew milk, organic coconut milk, organic extra virgin coconut oil, organic cane sugar, pure cocoa butter, and organic carob bean. “My partners and I are all fairly fanatical about ingredients, or rather fanatical about there being as few ingredients as necessary in whatever we eat,” he says. Here, Pete discusses Van Leeuwen’s new L.A. outpost and the finer points of sundae building.

What lured Van Leeuwen ice cream to the West Coast? Back in December of 2013, I came out to L.A. to receive our truck we call Rattlesnake that I’d just shipped across the country on a flatbed truck. Coincidentally our friend Ash Lewis had just shot a short film in Brooklyn during which the characters commandeer the Rattler and hit the road, California bound. Anyway, I arrived with the sole intention of overseeing the fitting out of the truck to meet L.A. codes, getting it staffed, and taking a meeting with a developer with retail space in a architecturally eccentric, yet very impressive development in a neighborhood called the Arts District. A few short months later, I found myself living in Beachwood Canyon and ready to sign our first lease in L.A. The Arts District was the closest thing to a Brooklyn vibe that L.A. had to offer, so it felt right for us right out of the gate.

So you’re a resident now? With our second location opening in Culver City in less than two months, and our third in Franklin Village slated for this spring, I’m happy to say that I’m not going anywhere.

Are there any unique-to-L.A. flavors? We currently have a Vegan Matcha and we plan on doing several flavors using only local produce from the Santa Monica farmers’ market, winter citrus from Beachwood Canyon, and a horchata flavor.

What is your favorite dish of ice cream? The greatest combo for me remains the New Yorker sundae, though recently I’ve slightly modified it to accommodate my lust for salt. There are two scoops of espresso ice cream, fresh organic whipped cream, our house-made Michel Cluizel hot fudge using 99 percent infini noir chocolate chips, Askinosie cocoa nibs, plus lightly salted Marcona almonds. True happiness and contentment is real!

Are any flavors already selling out in L.A.? The Honey Comb is going, going… Better hurry L.A., it’ll be a few days before we have more in the freezer once it’s gone.

By Elizabeth Varnell

Pictured: The new Van Leeuwen ice cream shop in downtown Los Angeles.
Photo by Sidney Bensimon

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