While on a surf trip to Noosa, Nathan ate a lot of ice cream and began dreaming of making his own. He returned to Auckland told his wife Mulan, who said “let’s try it!” And thus Lalele Organics was created, selling from their vintage caravan small batch traditional gelato and sorbet, as well as a few modern variations – Cocolato (vegan, made from TradeAid coconut milk) and also Popolato, gourmet vegan popsicles. “Our aim is to take our customers on a taste adventure!” Nathan told Restaurant & Café.
The trip to Noosa was five years ago, and it took a year to get up and running. “We built the commercial kitchen by hand ourselves, bought some equipment and started by trial and error!”It wasn’t a simple path. They had to sell their tractors and the boat to fund the project – “My dad wasn’t too pleased about losing the boat!” joked Nathan.
Having four children (two of whom now help out in the family business) they didn’t want to make something with artificial colouring or preservatives. This led them to going organic, a philosophy they take seriously. “We use real ingredients, never premix,” he said. “We grow our own rosemary for our Raspberry Coconut and Rosemary Cocolato as well as lavender for our Strawberry Coconut and Lavender Cocolato.” They work with producers and organic growers in the Bay of Plenty, who send them passionfruit and lime. They use Trade Aid coconut milk, unrefined organic cane sugar and Trade Aid chocolate. “We love TradeAid and the work they do,” he said.
Nathan and Mulan are always looking to play around with different falvour combinations. The pair recently made Autumn Fig and Coriander Sorbet which proved quite popular at the Vegan Food Fair. “ Many of our products contain herbs,” explained Nathan, “such as our Avocado, Coconut and French Tarragon Popolato.”.
You’ll frequently find Lalele at the monthly Coatesville market and Titirangi Village Market. They also enjoy WOMAD and Urban Street Fest, a foodtruck night run by foodtruck vendors. At this stage, Gutsell and Zhang have no plans to open a shop. However, there is talk of buying another caravan or two as quite often there is more than one good event on at the same time. They are looking at adding to their MPI-approved kitchen in Whenuapai to increase storage space, and are also soon planning to sell home packs delivered directly to their customers – as early as this winter, if time allows.