Six doors down from Tuck Shop Take Away, Clinton and Karina Serex’s nostalgia-fuelled burger venture on Hawthorn Road in Caulfield North, a neon ice-cream flickers in a window. Behind it is Sundae School: an ice-cream lover’s fever dream.
Dreamed up by Karina, Sundae School is an American-style ice-cream parlour, offering unusual produce made by hand in small batches. Opening flavours include strawberry and black-pepper sherbet; apple pie; bacon, banana and brown butter; and “real bubblegum” consisting of the five flavour compounds found in bubblegum, with fluffy marshmallows folded through. According to Karina that’s just the beginning.
“While I’m really proud of the ones we’re starting with, which are a great introduction to the unusual and slightly left-of-centre styles we’re going to be having, these flavours are even a little bit on the safer side.”
This shouldn’t be a shock considering Karina has cooked alongside some of the world’s most inventive chefs, including Heston Blumenthal.
“For me, food and cooking – and sweets and desserts in particular – are something I feel like I can play with,” says Karina. “I like to test the boundaries. Which is a reflection on who I am, but also the places I’ve worked. Obviously working at places like at The Fat Duck with Heston, thinking outside the box is something you do on a daily basis.”
So what makes a pastry chef decide to open an ice-cream parlour? In 2016 Karina visited New York City, where she dropped in on friend and chef Sam Mason of Oddfellows. After a winter of eating ice-cream and staring at the snow, she decided to return in summer and work with Sam to learn the tricks of the ice-cream trade.
Karina says Melbourne is currently spoilt for choice when it comes to ice-cream offerings, especially with gelati. Sundae School is more an American-style ice-cream, which uses a custard base and folds chunky ingredients into the concoctions. She describes her approach as nostalgic, but, “More like the school laboratory than the school library.”
Littered with classroom and religious paraphernalia (a play on the name), the Sundae School shopfront plays off the name – there’s even a commissioned painting of the Virgin Mary holding an ice-cream.
Karina says the future looks busy. “I want to work with more Australian ingredients,” she says. “We’ve got lemon myrtle out the back, some wattle seed, and some things a little more crazy, like toasted hay and honey.”
Currently Sundae School is open Friday-Sunday. Products include a rotating range of 10 ice-cream flavours; sundaes with a choice of house-made syrups and crunchy textures; ice-cream sandwiches; and old-fashioned malted milkshakes made with house-made soft serve. Feel guilty about eating ice-cream on its own? Tuck Shop is only a stroll away.
Sundae School Ice Creamery
261 Hawthorn Road, Caulfield North