Taiwanese-American friend duo and veteran vegans Alice Cherng and Belinda Wei embarked on a personal, and creative venture to honor their heritage. The idea to share the joys of their culinary culture with the Los Angeles community sparked the creation of creamy, decadent, plant-based ice creams, and Dear Bella Creamery was born! Over the past two years since the creamery’s inception in 2017, and in light of hate crimes against the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community, Alice and Belinda have increased the number of AAPI-inspired flavors in reverence and celebration of these rich cultures. The AAPI Ice Cream Collection invites customers to explore the wonders of cultural diversity in the best way possible–delicious ice cream! Notable favorites include Sweet Red Bean, Mango Sticky Rice, and last season’s unique, chili crisp-infused Dan Dan in collaboration with Fly By Jing. The mission-driven team is dedicated to satisfying the growing demand for high-quality, vegan ice cream with innovative flavors that appease a sophisticated, cultured palette. Every ingredient is 100% natural and void of artificial flavors, colors, preservatives, and hydrogenated oils that are commonplace in most luscious ice creams.
Dear Bella Creamery takes a chef-driven approach unlike any other! Chef Belinda Wei brings her unmatched expertise from her work at pastry programs, high-end grocers, and esteemed plant-based eateries, including Cafe Gratitude, Erewhon, and Wild Living Foods in Los Angeles, resulting in avant-garde flavors like Halva, Mango Chamoy, Italian Butter Cookie, Royal Tea Time…..the list goes on!
This Los Angeles-favorite creamery is taking its customer base up several notches by offering its entire line of ice cream for nationwide shipping across the United States! The goal is to offer a myriad of ingenious vegan ice creams and normalize Asian flavors in the mainstream. Alice and Belinda graciously shared their aspirations for Dear Bella Creamery with the VEGWORLD family.
VW: What do you feel sets you apart from other plant-based ice creams?
AC: When our customers experience their first bite of our ice cream, they often say, “I cannot believe this is dairy-free/vegan/plant-based!” That is because our ice cream is decadent, creamy, and reminiscent of dairy-based ice cream, but without any animal-derived ingredients. We are not trying to create a “healthier” alternative to dairy ice cream. Instead, we are creating something equally indulgent, while creating a novel experience with our chef-driven recipes. Our goal is to shift the perception of dairy-free ice cream from that of an inferior alternative, into one that affords tasty, unique flavors and textures that are just as satisfying.
We meticulously create every flavor until we believe it’s perfect. Not only should they wow our palates, but they should also tell a story. The birth of a flavor usually comes when Belinda and I are inspired to tell a story. For example, our Taiwanese Pineapple Cake was born when we wanted to celebrate Chinese New Year with something from our heritage. After we brainstorm the flavor, Belinda starts bringing our idea to fruition. With her culinary background and my foodie’s tongue, we are highly critical of our products, which means that developing a flavor can take multiple iterations! The result is a high-quality, unique product that we are very proud of.
VW: How did you connect with the idea to showcase your culinary heritage in your ice cream flavors?
DBC: Being first-generation Taiwanese-Americans, we feel a duty to seize the opportunity of having our own space to bring more light to our culture. We have the perfect, non-threatening vehicle to create awareness, and we hope that even something as small as tasting the flavors of another culture can create more awareness and start to shrink the gap between the familiar and the unfamiliar. We love our culture, and we love sharing it through our food.
VW: Why was it important to you to celebrate the flavors of your culture with your customers?
DBC: We want to expand the perspective on nostalgia, comfort, and what most consider “artisan” flavors. Creating flavors like Taiwanese Pineapple Cake, Sweet Red Bean, and Black Sesame is not only relatable for other Asian Americans! What might be novel to other customers can fulfill our guests’ culinary curiosity and bring them something new. We’re proud of our heritage and the foods we grew up with. Ice cream allows us to proudly share these flavors with others.
VW: What has the feedback from the AAPI community been like concerning their experiences with your ice cream flavors?
DBC: The AAPI community’s response has been astoundingly positive! People are excited to embrace their nostalgia for familiar flavors reflected on our menu. For many, it’s an opportunity to revisit some of their favorite desserts across Asia. We often hear that our flavors, like Taiwanese Pineapple Cake, Sweet Red Bean, and Black Sesame taste exactly like the ingredients they grew up eating at home. Providing comfort through celebrating culture through food is an honor we deeply cherish.
VW: We admire your commitment to showcasing the beauty in diversity through your delicious ice creams! Looking ahead, what is your current vision for Dear Bella Creamery?
DBC: We are working on opening our second location in Costa Mesa this summer! Our long-term vision is to create more space for connectivity and joy by opening more stores in the country.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Shriya is an Animal Rights activist, VEGWORLD writer, and Founder of Nourish by Shriya– her Vegan Hospitality Consulting Service that helps businesses attract the growing plant-based community. She is a mentor with Animal Activism Mentorship, enjoys volunteering at The Gentle Barn in Missouri, and currently lives in St. Louis with her pooch, Halley.
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