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14 Questions for the Woman Behind Shanghai's Super Popular Ice Cream

Anne-Catherine Guilloux is a co-founder of, and the Director of Ice Cream Affairs, at Luneurs, a French bakery, patisserie and ice cream chain. She leads a team of 12 people on Team Ice Cream, churnin...
2020-07-20 09:00:00
A SmartShanghai column focusing on people out there in the city making the scene. We asked them to tell us more, more, more about their wonderful selves.

Anne-Catherine Guilloux is a co-founder of, and the Director of Ice Cream Affairs, at Luneurs, a French bakery, patisserie and ice cream chain. She leads a team of 12 people on Team Ice Cream, churning out a staggering amount of salted caramel and other flavors every day. When I asked her how much ice cream Luneurs sells in a day, she responded only with "you have no idea". Then I asked her 14 more questions. Click the jump to read those!

Guilloux didn't get her start in food and beverage. Rather, since she arrived in China eight years ago, she has worked in a French school in Beijing, and in a library. At Luneurs, she draws on memories of her father's cooking and her Breton heritage (the reason why there are big flakes of sea salt on top of the salted caramel ice cream), as well as a crazy period of learning on the job when she was making ice cream for the wildly wanghong WIYF stall that drew huge queues down Wukang Lu. Ahead of the worst heat of summer, when we will all be walking around with dripping ice cream cones, and I asked her a few questions.

SmartShanghai: What makes a good ice cream?

Anne Catherine Guillox: The ingredients, the process of fabrication and also the serving condition have the biggest impact on how good the ice cream will be. Using simple and natural ingredients will make the fabrication process more complicated because you have to transform the ingredients but it will definitely assure you an authentic taste compared to artificial tastes that are simple, convenient and even fast to use. But not good.

SmSh: What makes a bad ice cream?

ACG: The first time I made ice was bad...very bad! I remember the texture; it was very watery and not smooth at all. The balance between sweetness and the flavor was not well controlled. And it was served too cold so the ice cream was very very hard!

SmSh: How do you judge whether ice cream if good or bad?

ACG: In my opinion, an ice cream is something you eat for pleasure so if you don't take any pleasure eating it, it is not a good ice cream. So for me an ice cream that can bring back memories, reminding me of the time when my parents were making homemade ice cream on Sunday for my brothers and I — that's the perfect ice cream. My father's ice cream was always made of simple flavors like vanilla, chocolate, strawberry and caramel. Very simple and clear tastes. I remember the texture was very rich and creamy. And the last point: a good ice cream is always paired with a homemade cone.

SmSh: How did you learn to make ice cream?

ACG: I learned by myself. One day I had the chance to be in charge of the ice cream making of an ice cream shop in Shanghai; it turned out to be one of the biggest ice cream hits in the city. (Ed Note: it was WIYF.) I have always been very passionate about food in general, cooking at home for friends; families and I also hosted or catered many events in the past. I think I started being serious about cooking when I felt that I liked very much being in a kitchen making everything from scratch and sharing it.

SmSh: Why did WIYF's ice cream become so viral and so famous?

ACG: This is a question I have been asked many times. I believe it was in that period of time a first concept like that in Shanghai : crafted ice cream window style, with little choice of ice-cream flavors.

SmSh: When is the season for ice cream in Shanghai?

ACG: There is no season for ice cream in Shanghai; people come in any season! I was surprised to see that even during the peak of winter, when it's freezing outside, snowing or raining, a lot of people still come to Luneurs for ice cream.

SmSh: Should ice cream drip on your hand?

ACG: Of course not. If it drips on your hand, you are not eating it fast enough!

SmSh: Why do you put salt on your ice cream?

ACG: Salted caramel flavor symbolizes Brittany, the place where I come from. I grew up with caramel and salt on it. This is my childhood souvenir.

SmSh: What are a few big challenges to making ice cream in Shanghai?

ACG: Nowadays thanks to suppliers we can find almost every ingredient we want. But back then the biggest challenge was to find top quality imported ingredients. Now my biggest challenge is to convince people to be aware that top quality ingredients have a high cost.

SmSh: What's the biggest complaint people have about Luneurs' ice cream?

ACG: Luneurs ice-cream scoops are too big; we should make it smaller.

SmSh: How much ice cream do you eat in a week?

ACG: Three times per week.

SmSh: Is it right or wrong to mix flavors in the same cone?

ACG: Similarly to cuisine, some flavors pairs with other. Some other less. If you want to experience fully a flavor, it's best to have it pure.

SmSh: How do you say "brain freeze" in French?

ACG: Somehow, there is no translation for such expression – we just put our hand on forehead

SmSh: When you are not at Luneurs, where do you eat ice cream?

ACG: Gracie's for ice cream (in Al's Diner) and ZAKUZAKU for soft serve.