‘Made with love’ may sound quirky and clichéd, but there is no other way to describe the ice cream at Cremerie François in Sint-Niklaas, Belgium. Ever since 1928, the shop has been famous for its ice cream, which still wins awards on a regular basis.
The founder, François, started with just two flavours; mocha and vanilla. At the time, the shop had four tables and was located a few doors away from their current location. Nowadays, it holds space for 180 people, including an outdoor terrace. The number of customers and distributors has increased over the last 90 years, but the true legacy lives on. The current owners Christophe Penneman and Lies Van de Casserie still use François’ original recipe and they carefully develop the business, choosing quality over quantity.
“We have up to nine flavours available each day,” says Van de Casserie. “There are a few regular ones such as vanilla, mocha, chocolate and pistachio. The rest depend on the season, quality of the ingredients and the daily inspiration of Christophe. We have a limited menu to protect the quality of our products.” The ice cream is freshly made every day and all ingredients are carefully selected, many from local sources. Eggs, butter or any additives are never an option for them and coulis and sauces are homemade as well. They pasteurise the raw milk themselves too. This is how Cremerie François controls the processes from start to end product, and maintains its pure and high-quality products.
The dedication and attention of the couple is unrivalled. Everything they do is for the love of their ice cream and the satisfaction of their customers. Penneman’s parents, who are the previous owners of the ice cream shop, are still often present and willing to help or give advice. Van de Casserie: “The best part of our job is that most people are excited because they can enjoy ice cream. We are surrounded by happy people every day.”
The kitchen and the cake workshop are equipped with windows so customers can see the inner workings of the ice cream making. For those who want to learn more about the secrets of Cremerie François, guided tours for businesses, classes, groups, etc. are available by appointment.