Grab Your Passport and Head to Wanderlust Creamery

Q&A with Adrienne Borlongan

Chef & Co-Founder of Wanderlust Creamery in Los Angeles

Take vacations in the winter, and expect to work 24/7 in the summer months.

What is Wanderlust Creamery all about?

Wanderlust Creamery makes artisanal ice cream inspired by travel.


What is your earliest ice cream memory?

When I was a kid, my older brother worked at Thrifty’s, and my mom would take my sister and me to visit him at work. My favorite flavor was Chocolate Malted Crunch—I loved Thrifty’s iconic cylindrical scoops and I was always determined to maintain that shape as I licked my cone.


What is your most popular flavor?

One is Ube Malted Crunch, which is inspired by my childhood experiences at Thrifty’s. It’s purple yam and malted milk ice cream with crunchy malt pieces. I took a classic flavor from my Filipino background and injected that childhood memory of malted milk and crunchy malt balls into it. The other two popular flavors are Sticky Rice and Mango, and Japanese Neapolitan, which is a trio of matcha, hojicha, and black sesame ice creams.


What is your favorite flavor?

Our secret, off-menu Earl Grey Sundae. It’s Earl Grey ice cream topped with bergamot olive oil and a sprinkling of Maldon sea salt.


What is the most unique flavor you've ever offered?

Palo Santo Mint Chip. Palo santo is an Amazonian wood that people use to “smudge,” kind of like they do with sage. The scent reminds me of those old-school pastel-colored, pillow-shaped butter mints. My uncle lives in Peru, and he told me that they actually use palo santo wood shavings as tea there. I decided to infuse those shavings with fresh mint leaves in an ice cream base, and freckle the whole thing with dark chocolate. The result was an earthy “om” version of mint chip.


Is there a flavor you love(d) but that didn’t find an audience?

Honeyed Black Truffle. I guess it was too savory for some people.


How did you get into the ice cream business?

I worked as a waitress in college, which eventually led to a career as bartender and then as a mixologist. My 2015 New Year’s resolution was to take the leap into entrepreneurship, and I decided on a whim to go with ice cream. I bought a commercial gelato machine that took up half of my home kitchen and I started doing some R&D. Later that spring, my boyfriend, who is now my business partner, found me shop that used to be a Coldstone Creamery, so it was equipped with everything I needed. By that August, Wanderlust Creamery opened its doors. A few months later, a relative called to congratulate me, and informed me that we actually had ice cream making in our blood—my grandfather was a flavor chemist for Magnolia ice cream, a big ice cream company in Asia, in the 1930s. So I guess my whim wasn’t just a coincidence.


How did you learn to make ice cream?

I studied Food Science in college, so I approached ice cream from a scientific standpoint. Instead of looking at ice cream cookbooks, I bought myself a bunch of ice cream textbooks. I’ve owned Wanderlust Creamery for almost three years now, and I’m still constantly learning and improving my recipes.


What is the secret to scooping ice cream?

Store it at 9°F—that temperature makes for a smooth, gliding scoop. And use a wet ice cream scooper.


Cup or cone? 

If it’s amazing ice cream made with the best ingredients, like Bronte pistachio, I like to savor it in a cup. Otherwise, a cone.


What is your topping of choice?

Maldon sea salt—on vanilla ice cream, on sorbets. It’s the most versatile topping on ice cream, because everyone has it in their cupboards and you only need a pinch.


What's something surprising that you’ve learned about ice cream fans?

Kids are the most open-minded customers today. When I was a kid, I could never get my classmates to try a slice of my purple ube birthday cake—my mom would always have to get a second cake in vanilla or chocolate for some of the kids. Now, it’s very rare that I see a child walk out of the store without a purple ice cream mustache.


Best advice for those who want to get into the biz?

Make what you like and don’t be afraid to be adventurous. Take vacations in the winter, and expect to work 24/7 in the summer months.


Any industry mentor or person who inspires you?

Anthony Bourdain. He shut down the notion that any food is “weird”—he blasts food ethnocentrism, which is in line with our mission at Wanderlust Creamery.


Any advice for making ice cream at home?

Eat it right away. Ice cream made at home isn’t meant to be stored for long. It should be eaten within hours of being made, otherwise you’ll end up with lots of ice crystals that can’t be avoided when you’re working with non-commercial equipment.


Are you a California girl by geography or in spirit? Check out Issue No. 7, all about California! 

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Lauren Goldstein