WATCH | Life throwing you lemons? Make ice cream: Retrenched chef starts business during lockdown

  • Maxine Wiehe, a chef in Johannesburg, decided to make her dream of owning her own ice-cream business a reality after being retrenched.
  • A few months after opening her doors, mmmMoo’s Creamery is stocked in seven stores across Gauteng with the 125ml tubs retailing at R35.
  • During the business’ busiest time, they were making up to 1 500 units each month. 

When life throws you lemons make ice-cream – that’s the motto Maxine Wiehe lives by.

Last year, she found herself between the proverbial rock and a hard place. 

Wiehe lost her job as a chef at a catering company and had to quickly come up with a plan. 

“As soon as the president announced the lockdown, the retrenchments at the company began,” she told News24.

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The 26-year-old chef started mmmMoo’s Creamery because she always had a passion for plated desserts and ice-cream allowed her to explore her creativity. 

“We do different and unique flavours that aren’t the run of the mill. We don’t do strawberry, chocolate, vanilla. We do tonic bean which is our take on vanilla and a s’mores flavour which is our take on chocolate. I like doing wacky and weird flavours that people might not know,” she said.

A sweet tooth

Wiehe’s love for desserts and ice-cream soared to new heights when she decided to quit her studies at the University of Pretoria, a year into her nutrition and food science degree.

The chef traded in her textbooks for a tutelage under a head pastry chef at one of Johannesburg’s top fine-dining restaurant’s, DW Eleven-13. 

“I decided university was not for me. I loved every second of the work experience. I worked with a great pastry chef, who made me fall in love with pastry. After that, I knew that this is what I wanted to do.”

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Nine months after working at DW Eleven-13, she enrolled at Prue Leith Chefs Academy.

“[It] was the best one-and-a-half years of my life. It was fun, lots of hard work but I loved every second of it,” she said.

mmmMoo’s Creamery succeeds

Once Wiehe graduated, she returned to DW Eleven-13 and started making a name for herself in the industry.

However, the Covid-19 pandemic forced her to pivot her career aspirations and open up mmmMoo’s Creamery. 

In a few months, mmmMoo’s has attracted a sizeable clientele. Wiehe was able to stock her products at seven different store across Gauteng.

At her busiest, the chef was making almost 1 500 units of ice-cream each month with the 125ml tubs retailing at R35.

The best-selling flavours were the s’mores and burnt sugar, and choc chunk.

In the long-term, Wiehe would like to stock mmmMoo’s Creamery in retailers across the country, but for now she has her eyes on an ice-cream truck.

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