Written by by Dan Wagner, CNN
She calls it her own little world. Actress and public speaker Diane Wong is in a world unto herself. In her mind, she is director of her own business, inspired by the work of iconic American writer Jack Kerouac, plus a parenting queen (her business operates under her own brand, Hubsmith), and a private jet pilot and partner (her private aviation business, Winglite, hires out private jets).
Oh, and Wong is also a master in making ice cream.
What’s more, she’s one of the founders of the Toronto-based Wong’s Ice Cream (the original “Wong’s” ice cream was founded in 1990 by the same name). Today, the storefront on trendy Queen Street West doesn’t have any lines around the block. There’s also no soda fountain, just Wong’s loose assortment of handmade products (chocolate chip cookies, coffee and milk ice cream, scoops of sorbet, nougat-covered caramel bars and more, available in store and online), all of which reflect her whimsy, passion for science and frank belief in the power of food.
‘Like an open book’
Wong grew up in Toronto, the child of immigrants from South Africa. From a young age, she gravitated toward science and baking.
“I’m trying to figure out what I can add to something as simple as ice cream,” she said in an interview at the moment when her book about ingredients and flavors, “Before My Friends,” was released in November 2017. “I’ve come up with some interesting stuff, which I use often.”
The Brooklyn Vegan review referred to it as “a treat” and in a City Room profile the New York Times called it “like an open book for food,” describing Wong’s creamy, smooth ice cream as a reinvention of the simple, chunky cup you might find at Ben & Jerry’s.
As co-founder of the Wong’s Ice Cream brand, Wong oversees product development and buying for the business. But it’s her ice cream recipes that are really at the heart of what Wong’s is all about: her personal perspectives on taste and the science behind it.
A mathematical diet
Her takeaway from the 2014 book “I Can Cook: and Other Lies We Tell Ourselves” is that “science is also art,” and she has used the data from the book as the foundation for her own ice cream recipes.
Here’s one about her choice to do a Nutella ice cream.
“We haven’t had the chance to experiment with Nutella yet, so I decided to make ice cream with flour, oil, cocoa, whole milk, vanilla and hazelnuts,” she said in a section of the book dedicated to cooking.
“This is one flavor where I think I could add in a bit more dark chocolate and chocolate chips and maybe a bit of brown sugar, but most of the time I think it’s fine just being very, very vanilla.”