Winnipeg screams for ice cream

Mid-winter opening date a cool move for Chaeban

“Only in Winnipeg can you open an ice cream shop in January,” ice cream enthusiast Peter Bjornson says.

Chaeban Ice Cream technically opened in December, on the first day of winter, but the shop’s momentum has been building through January.

Bjornson was keen to visit the shop with his family.

“I’m just trying the Mustang Sally, and I looked at all the other flavours, and there’s a lot to try,” he says. “I will probably try all of them. This is really good ice cream.”

When Joseph Chaeban decided to open an ice cream shop, the second-generation cheese maker and dairy scientist was adamant that his offerings would be made from scratch with quality ingredients sourced locally.

“I know the hard work that goes behind getting milk and what happens on the farms,” Chaeban says. As a cheese maker, “I always had a relationship with the farmers, and I knew the kind of struggles that they had … I want to try to help as many farmers as I can.”

His honey comes from rooftop hives run by Beeproject Apiaries, he brings in beets from a farmer in Steinbach, and he gets his milk from Grenkow Dairy Farm. For the Mustang Sally flavour, Chaeban mixes beans from Dogwood Coffee with white chocolate, “so it’s between a latte and cappuccino taste,” he says.

To call a product ice cream, it needs to have 10 per cent cream, Chaeban explains. Premium ice cream requires 13 per cent, and super premium is minimum 16 per cent.

“I want it to be established first as a premier ice cream place. And it seems like the word is getting out,” Chaeban says. “The majority of our flavours are 16 per cent, so we’re between premium and super premium. And we use real milk, real cream, and this is something I’m proud of.”

Another tenet of Chaeban’s business model is to minimize their environmental impact. Take-out ice cream is packaged in glass jars, and customers who return the jars will earn themselves $1.00. Though they could purchase new jars for $0.70, Chaeban believes it’s important to prioritize these small shifts.

“When I was looking at ice cream shops, I saw a place in Vancouver. And they were doing the same concept, and I was like, man these guys are so great because they just made the path,” Chaeban says. “(A)nd
I hope someone after me does the same thing, because it’s really important that we help the environment.”

In-house, the 12 flavour offerings (including one dairy-free creation) are available to be sampled - with stainless steel spoons, not plastic. Customers can also order a flight of four varieties. The Abir Al Sham is a traditional Arabic recipe that uses orchid flower as the binding agent, and “it’s really good for your digestive system,” Chaeban says.

For the Baba Beets flavour, he mixes the roasted beets with sour cream and ricotta “to mellow it down,” and then adds orange zest for a little citrusy zing and poppy seeds for another textural layer.

The Prairie Barry, one of the super premium offerings, appears a little faded next to the vivid Baba Beets, but that’s because no artificial flavours are added to the blend of local strawberries and white chocolate.

For those like Peter Bjornson who enjoy sipping Slurpees year-round, a little cooler weather is no deterrent to enjoying Chaeban’s delights: “I eat ice cream all the time. Doesn’t matter if it’s -30 or +30. I like ice cream, and this is exceptional ice cream.”

Visit Chaeban Ice Cream at 390 Osborne St. from Monday to Saturday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., or explore online at

Published in Volume 72, Number 14 of The Uniter (January 18, 2018)

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