Below Eleven ice cream keeps the quality high and the prices reasonable
A tasteful example of how luxury doesn’t necessarily have to be expensive comes in the form of the locally produced French artisan ice cream brand Below Eleven, whose quality product is not just reserved for a small elite.
Unsatisfied with this city’s ice cream options, almost all of which are highly processed, Hervé Mouly—a long-term Bangkok resident, loving father, passionate foodie, and self-confessed sweet tooth—set out on a quest to produce his own, better, version of this cool creamy dessert (at first it was just for the benefit of his two children).
With an admirable determination, the French native equipped himself with the best ice cream machine, the best teachers—he appointed some of France’s most prestigious chefs—and of course, the best ingredients. All these “bests”, mixed with Hervé’s perfectionist tendencies, resulted in some pretty delicious ice cream. In the beginning he produced five kilograms of vanilla ice cream every day for 400 days, in order to achieve the perfect taste, optimal texture, and longest shelf life. His delicious experiments quickly made their way around the city and, encouraged by positive feedback, Hervé eventually turned his passion into a business, which led to the birth of Below Eleven in 2014.
The name is a reference to the ideal temperature to eat ice cream—at minus 11 degrees Celsius (which coincidentally equals 11 degrees Fahrenheit). But it’s not just a serving suggestion temperature that makes Hervé’s ice cream so special. As opposed to most ice creams on the market nowadays—including popular Italian gelatos, which use powder as the main flavour agent—Below Eleven is completely natural, and made of only real and high-quality ingredients, such Valrhona dark chocolate from France, and fresh French Tahitian vanilla beans (which sell for about 600 Euro per kilo). It’s also free from any artificial additives, food colouring and preservatives, and the brand’s sorbets contain up to 70 percent of fresh fruits, reducing the sugar and water portion to a minimum.
Of course, using only the best ingredients makes pricing a challenge, but Chef Hervé is determined to keep his product affordable for a majority of people. “I want to be the Ferrari of ice cream,” he says. “Of course it’s not cheap, but for the quality we deliver it’s very inexpensive. We want to do a luxury product, but at a very reasonable price.”
And, dare we say, it succeeds on both counts. Private customers have the option of purchasing an 85 ml single serve cup for B129, or the 473 ml pint, priced at B489. Offering both ice creams and sorbets, there’s a selection of about 10 regular flavours, as well as certain special editions. The general flavour palette revolves around classic French style, such as the signature vanilla ice cream, whereas certain other flavours have been adapted to local palettes. One such example is the March special edition of Coeur de Guanaja chocolate sorbet.
“Thai people seem to love dark chocolate [ice cream],” explains Chef Hervé, “so we make a chocolate sorbet which is extra strength. For me personally, it’s not what I prefer because I like sweeter things, but people here seem to love it!”
The ice creams are produced at a factory in Samut Prakan, and available at various gourmet markets across Bangkok, including Siam Paragon, EmQuartier, and Central Food Hall Chitlom (and select locations outside of the city as well). At the end of last year, Below Eleven also launched a free express home delivery throughout Bangkok, and this more direct sales approach also helps to inform and educate customers about quality ice cream, while making sure the cooling chain is not broken (you should never thaw then refreeze ice cream). In addition, the brand is also available at several hotels, gourmet shops, cafés, and restaurants, including Aldo’s Bistro on Sathorn Rd—which makes sense as that restaurant’s recently returned partner-chef Hervé Frerard is also Below Eleven’s official brand ambassador.