Q+A: Berry Yummy

Berry Yummy is the name of an ice cream van with a difference, forgoing the nasty soft-serve ice cream of our childhoods and creating a fresh, delicious alternative in an instant.

We took the chance to learn more about this new kind of ice cream van, and discovered the story of two passionate and dedicated mobile food vendors.


FS: Who are you?
BY: We are Tony and Ursula Valeli. Tony is a proud South Aucklander of Maori/Samoan descent, Ursula is Pakeha and grew up in Wellington. When we met 14 years ago, Tony worked in a steel factory and Ursula was studying for a BFA! Opposites attract.

FS: Tell us the Berry Yummy story, from the start:
BY: It's a pretty interesting story...for no real good reason we had the idea that a real fruit ice cream truck would be a good business venture. We talked it over with some good friends who were keen but they decided it was too risky to pursue.

Then life sent us in a very different direction when our baby boy was diagnosed with a terminal illness. Over the next five years we went on a journey of heartaches and joy: losing our son when he was two and a half, and also having two more healthy boys. Our son taught us how short life is and that life is for living; we decided to marry and while we planned our food truck wedding the real fruit ice cream truck idea crept back into our minds. What followed was a very serendipitous event! We started telling friends and family what we wanted to do and within weeks met an amazing couple who wanted to sell their ice cream truck. They encouraged us to take it off their hands for nothing, learn the ropes and figure out if it was for us before putting any money down on it. It was an incredible offer we couldn't refuse. We owe a lot to these lovely people who helped us get on our feet when they knew nothing about us. It is pretty surreal to be living this dream.

FS: Why wheels?
BY: So Tony can sing dance and play the harmonica without anyone seeing! Wheels are amazing because they mean we have the flexibility to go anywhere to try to earn our keep. We are not limited to operating in a market environment: we can sit at the side of the road, we can rock up to a business premises or a wedding. We do feel for our other foodie buddies out there after an event – we can pretty much turn the key and go while they are still unpacking tables and loading gear into their cars. We are very lucky in that respect.


FS: Why do Kiwis have such an enormous soft spot for ice cream vans?
BY: It's just that fabulous nostalgia thing. Who can't remember the sound of an ice cream truck in the back of their memory bank? I think they spell out good times, spontaneous ice cream moments and Mum or Dad or someone else being in a generous mood.

FS: What would you like to see happen in Auckland's mobile food scene?
BY: The council recently made some positive changes related to costs and regulations for mobile food vendors – they are incremental changes but very much welcomed, and more moves in this direction would be good.

FS: Where is your favourite place to trade?
BY: We love trading at Silo Park in the city - especially at night when it is all lit up. It's so beautiful. The free events in Auckland over summer such as Music in Parks are also a great thing to be part of.

FS: What do you recommend to have alongside a Berry Yummy ice cream? (Can we say soft serve??)
BY: You don't really want to have a Berry Yummy alongside something else, you want to fully experience it's unparalleled exquisiteness! After that, go for gold. As for whether we can be described as soft serve, it's a bit complicated. Soft serve typically carries some negative associations for consumers - that it is made from powder, or full of fillers. Our ice creams are simply made with high quality vanilla ice cream blended together with frozen berries.

The original story about the beginning of the classic soft serve revolves around the idea that softer (melting) ice cream is yummiest, and our process works along the same lines. The ice cream has to be a little bit soft to combine nicely with the berries. They are so cool because visually they look fantastic but they are made from good stuff!