Winnipeg ice cream shop scoops up national awards

Chaeban Ice Cream in Winnipeg is the grand champion of ice cream after it posted two wins in a national competition.

Chaeban Ice Cream wins titles at Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in Toronto

Two men smile near jars of ice cream.
Chaeban Ice Cream owner Joseph Chaeban and his son, Mohamad, celebrate at the Osborne Street shop on Wednesday. (Simon Deschamps/Radio-Canada)

A Winnipeg ice cream was just named the best in Canada.

It's an honour Chaeban Ice Cream owner Joseph Chaeban said he hopes will help propel the Osborne Street store's products across the country.

The shop's Salty Carl ice cream was awarded the grand champion in ice cream and its Rocky Ricardo flavour got the top prize for chocolate ice cream with inclusions at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in Toronto

"It's very exciting. It's a dream come true," Chaeban said at his Riverview neighbourhood store Wednesday evening.

"We're hoping it does help our business.… We are doing pretty good in Winnipeg. We're trying to expand into the rest of Canada. So [after we won such an] honourable prize, I hope people can just grab it off the shelf and be courageous just to try it for the first time and see why we won."

The annual event, which calls itself "Canada's premier showcase for excellence in livestock, crops and food" on its website, moved some of its food competitions to June this year to ensure in-season judging, instead of waiting for the fair in November.

Chaeban said a lot goes into making the award-winning products at his shop, which has about 20 employees.

It's a three-day process for each batch, starting with hand making the sauce, then making the cream from raw milk from a farm in Steinbach, Man.

The ice cream gets prepared on the second day, then aged 24 hours, he said. Then it gets frozen for another 24 hours before it's served.

"We buy all the best ingredients. We don't take any shortcuts, so this is why it's so special to win this award, just to get recognized. All of our hard work is being recognized," he said.

The win tastes even sweeter coming from such a small market, when ice cream makers from across the country were competing, Chaeban said.

Noreen Duncan said she's a big fan of the ice cream Chaeban makes, which she called "top-notch."

An older couple smiles as one of them eats ice cream.
Noreen Duncan and her husband, Glenn Duncan, enjoy some ice cream at Chaeban on Wednesday. (Simon Deschamps/Radio-Canada)

"The ice cream is wonderful. It's delicious. It's more-ish, because I always want more," Duncan said, eating ice cream at the shop on Wednesday.

But for her, it's about more than just how good it tastes.

"We're supporting Manitoba farmers. We're supporting local people, we're supporting newcomers, we're supporting equality and inclusiveness," Duncan said of the shop owned by Chaeban, a refugee from Lebanon whose wife, Zainab Ali, is from a family of Syrian refugees.

"It's the whole idea of the people who make it, the support for the community, the sharing and the modelling. It's more than just the taste of the ice cream — but the ice cream is delicious."

With files from Simon Deschamps