Helen Yung and Jan Wichayanuparp have pretty sweet lives. First, they were savvy enough to open the super stylish Sweet Republic (9160 E. Shea Blvd, Scottsdale, 480-248-6979, www.sweetrepublic.com), where ingenious ice cream flavors like Salted Butter Caramel Swirl are the order of the day. Second, they were smart enough to escape the stuffy, buttoned-down world of investment banking and finance well before the market tanked. Surely, handcrafting marshmallows for an exquisite brownie sundae or perfecting the blend of bacon and caramel in Sweet Republic's most famous ice cream flavor must be infinitely more enjoyable than number crunching profit & loss statements.
Yung and Wichayanuparp have put the same attention to mind-numbing details into their new vocation. Sweet Republic's design utilizes sustainable and green design principles, from the low emissions fabric on the cushions to the kiln-fired glass to the locally sourced milk and cream used to create their artisan ice cream. Still can't get enough? No worries, you can follow Sweet Republic on Twitter so there's no chance of missing any new flavors.
Chow Bella: There are such creative and funky flavors happening here. How do you come up with them?
Helen Yung: Sometimes people request things or talk to us about something. They'll ask, 'Have you guys thought about this flavor?' We watch a lot of Top Chef (Bravo TV's cooking challenge reality show). Richard Blais from last season did bacon ice cream a couple of times, so we wanted to try it, and it turned out really well. We really like things that are salty and sweet, too. Salted butter caramel? That was a no brainer. The bleu cheese and date ice cream, we tested that one on friends first.
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CB: Have you ever had any misses with new flavors? HY: Yes, a sorbet. Our sweet sunshine orange - it was orange, carrots and ginger. We had fresh citrus, and we thought it would be good because those flavors work on their own. It wasn't, and it just wasn't good as it aged.... We had a customer ask every day for banana sorbet. So we tried it and it just didn't work, there was too much raw banana flavor. So we added blueberries. Now it's called Purple Rain.
CB: You and Jan had a previous life in the wild world of finance. Given the economy, you must be glad you're not in that business any more.
HY: Glad? (laughter) Absolutely. But it's a tough answer. I like the way we interact with people and it is more real. Finance is more in the air, its numbers, concepts, it doesn't always seem like it is real. This is more tangible. We like being able to be with people.
CB: How did you end up with an artisinal ice cream shop?
HY: We wanted something with food. We thought about a restaurant but this is so much more intimate. We can experiment while doing the classics really well. We just love ice cream.
Jen Wichayanuparp: That's what is so great about Phoenix. It's ice cream weather all year around!