Small Business Saturday Blog

We all scream for ice cream

Thursday, November 16, 2023 at 06:00

Baboo Gelato is a Dorset-based ice cream manufacturer that focuses obsessively on using the best possible ingredients, sourced as locally and seasonally as possible.
Annie and Sam Hanbury started the business because they wanted to use the incredible local ingredients available in their area of the West Country. Annie trained as a gelatierie (master ice cream maker) in Bologna, Italy, before opening Baboo in 2016 with one small kiosk in the seaside town of West Bay.
Sam told us, “From day one, people recognised that local seasonal ingredients in a well-made ice cream served by happy staff in an eccentrically decorated kiosk really can make one’s day!” Major awards quickly followed: Baboo Gelato was named Champion Ice Cream from Taste of the West in 2016 and 2020, and has placed in the top three finalists every other year. The business was Best British Speciality Food in the Great British Food Awards and has won many stars from Great Taste. Meanwhile, they’ve grown from one to six kiosks, and serve about 200 restaurants, pubs, farm shops and stately homes in their local area.
With their focus on buying locally and seasonally, they support many local farms, with tractors and vans filled with fruit turning up at their door all summer long. They told us that they love fruit that is ripe and misshapen, not bland and supermarket-ready. Ugly fruit is welcome, and local fruit suppliers use them when they have excess stock, all of which reduces food waste. They also forage in hedgerows for under-rated ingredients like elderflower. With ice cream this good, very little is left unsold, but occasional excess stock is sold through ‘Too Good to Go’, so nothing is thrown out.
Sam added, “We make all our ice cream from scratch using real ingredients. And this year we’ve been particularly lucky in finding interesting new suppliers. We’re currently talking to a charity that runs a Victorian walled garden in Dorset about picking their extraordinary crop of heritage variety damsons. We’ve also found a Brazilian supplier to give us the juiciest deepest flavoured mangoes we’ve ever tried. And we’ve got a Sicilian connection whose blood oranges need to be tasted to be believed.”
Baboo spent the winter of 2022 building a large new production site, which means they now have four times the production capability and for the first time in years are able to take on new customers and begin new initiatives.
Naturally, as a company that makes everything from scratch and loves to use local seasonal produce, they are planning on going large for Christmas 2023. They have a full suite of Christmas flavours led by their Brandy Gelato (think mince pies with a rich brandy gelato melting across it), which makes use of their neighbour Somerset Cider Brandy for a really full flavour. Also on the menu are homemade Gingerbread Gelato, Christmas Spice Gelato, Spiced Orange Sorbet, and their very popular Plum Sorbet. For the kids (and kids at heart), they’ve got Humbug Gelato, Chocolate Orange Gelato, and Chocolate with Candy Canes.
They’ve also started a nationwide home delivery service. Sam told us, “It used to break our heart to receive emails from customers who’d visited our Dorset outlets asking how to get their Baboo Gelato fix in Birmingham or Glasgow, and we’d always have to disappoint them. But as of September 2023, we’re now able to send a range of our award winning ice cream across the country.”
They haven’t forgotten our four-legged friends either! They have an exceptionally popular iced treat for dogs called Doggy Doggy Yum Yum. They are delighted to have been able to partner with Dorwest Herbs, the UK’s leading authority for herbal remedies and supplements for dogs and cats. They now add a spoon of their Keeper’s Mix in every tub of Doggy Doggy, and told us that the reception to this new formula has been stupendous.
Baboo were also honoured to be part of the American Express Small Business Saturday programme in 2022 and 2023. Sam told us, “Not only was it fascinating to meet so many other businesses going on the same entrepreneurial journey, but their weekly programme of webinars from leading experts was consistently useful, and has taken our social media and PR capabilities to a new level. Small Business Saturday really offers something of value to everyone.”
Baboo’s highly skilled manufacturing team makes all their ice cream by hand. Many teenagers in West Dorset will have their first summer job with Baboo, where they are trained well and treated with respect. Sam told us, “Our staff handbook is a legendary book of obsessive detail about the preparation, care and presentation of ice cream. Our staff come back to us year after year so we must be doing something right.”
Visit Baboo Gelato online here and click here to find details of their kiosks in Lyme Regis, West Bay, Weymouth, Morcombelake and Swanage. Click here to find out more about the American Express Shop Small campaign.


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