When it opens in Thornbury this September, Kenny Lover will be handing out nostalgia in double scoops. The old-school Australiana-themed ice-creamery is by Tom Peasnell (of American barbeque joint Cheek, pastel-pink cocktail bar Peaches, and Preston’s Takeaway Pizza and Dexter) and Mike Baker and Daniel Mason, co-owners of Carlton North wine bar Henry Sugar.
Peasnell and long-time friend Maria Angelico, who is helping with the design of the new shop, live next door to Henry Sugar. “We used to go there literally all the time – we still do – and just eat their desserts,” Peasnell says. “[One day] we were like, ‘You should make this into an ice-cream store’… and they were like ‘Yeah alright, let’s do it’.”
Peasnell says Kenny Lover will serve up nostalgic Aussie flavours that transport you back to the summers of your childhood. “Once you taste the ice-cream, you’ll remember the flavour,” he says. “You won’t know why you remember it, but that’s the sort of vibe we’re going for.”
Baker trained as an artist but switched to cheffing at 27, spending time in the kitchen at Fitzroy’s Hell of the North and Spain’s El Celler de Can Roca, which was twice ranked the number one in the World’s 50 Best Restaurant awards. He’s responsible for Kenny Lover’s experimental and mostly vegan approach to ice-cream, with flavours such as coconut and finger lime, wattleseed and malt, and Davidson plum and ginger, which riff off the traditional but explore native ingredients too. The team is also playing around with combinations such as kalamata olive and white chocolate, watermelon and olive oil, and soy sauce, which Peasnell says will have a flavour profile similar to salted caramel.
“It’s going to be hard to get people on it, but that’s the best thing about ice-cream … you can build someone’s trust by getting them literally just to taste it,” says Peasnell.
Alongside ice-cream, the team at Kenny Lover will also be serving hot chips – which Peasnell says are strictly for dipping.
“We love the contrast between the heat and saltiness of hot chips and the cold sweetness of the ice-cream,” he says. “It’s a bloody dream.”
The small High Street space is currently undergoing a ’70s-inspired refit, but the team “won’t be holding back”, says Peasnell. The ice-creamery will be decorated in shades of burnt orange and yellow, with big, plush couches and a ceiling covered in shag-pile carpet. Tiles designed by architect India Mahdavi have been imported from London to line the floors.
The ice-cream itself will be made in specialised machines, currently being transported from Italy to Melbourne in a container. Each flavour will then be served in individual stainless-steel containers with lids in the traditional pozzetti style.
“You won’t be able to see it until you open the pot,” says Peasnell. “But it’s better for the life of the ice-cream.”
Kenny Lover is due to open on High Street, Thornbury in September.