To hear Soraya Kilgore speak with so much love about the soft serve ice cream she makes at her new Design District shop, MadLab Creamery, you’d be surprised at how much she actually eats.
“Making the ice cream has always given me pleasure,” she said. “But I can have a single spoonful, and that’s enough for me.”
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She’s more of a sorbet girl, she says. You’d never guess from her career as one of Miami’s best pastry chefs. She’s made her name by creating intricate, delicate desserts that are the cherry on top of a decadent meal at Alter, the Wynwood restaurant where her husband, Brad, was named Food & Wine magazine’s best new chef.Related content
There, and at Brad Kilgore’s other restaurant in the Arsht Center, Brava, she creates desserts that challenge the palate: a chocolate curd with rooibos tea, cherry marmalade and black sesame gelato, or a so-called fruit curry, with strawberries and jalapeño.
Not at MadLab. There she creates for the child inside her and her customers. Think cotton candy toppings, edible glitter and pink everywhere you look.
“I want an 11-year-old to come here and think, ‘I’m having the best dessert ever,’ ” she said. “I want everyone to come and enjoy the ice cream.”
She does that by keeping it simple while using luxurious ingredients. She said she always has chocolate and vanilla on the menu, while including one off-the-wall flavor to satisfy the foodies. And she offers a pair of fruit ice creams depending on what’s in season.
Her chocolate ice cream is made with Republica del Cacao chocolate. The green tea matcha is made with Miami’s JoJo Tea whole-leaf imports. The fruit ice creams are made with this winter’s exceptional crop of South Florida strawberries and jackfruit.
“I don’t want them to be super-weird flavors. Ok, that’s not true. I want there to be one super-weird flavor,” she laughed.
The 32 different toppings speak to her formal pastry chef training — with a heavy dose of her whimsy. The tiny gummy bears and toffee toppings are sourced from artisanal shops. The Rice Krispy treats and brownies she bakes herself using more of that Republica del Cacao chocolate. And the cotton candy will be made-to-order with flavors ranging from simple cherry and watermelon to root beer and piña colada.
“Soraya has an incredibly creative mind. Very whimsical, very fun,” said Tatiana Vernot, a fellow pastry chef at Alter who helped her open MadLab. “The ice cream shop screams Soraya.”
And for her foodie friends, she has sinister additions, from her Japanese cheesecake chunks to candied, puffed genmaicha (brown rice green tea) that you have to ask for off a secret menu.
“I keep some in the back for my chef friends. It’s not for the faint of heart, for sure,” she said.
She’ll offer ten different one-off pints of different ice creams to go, 15 different kinds of chocolate bark, homemade cupcakes and whatever other confection comes to mind. The ice cream cones start at $7.50.
She will continue to consult on desserts at Alter, Brava and at Brad Kilgore’s two upcoming Design District restaurants (though, she said, he is quite the accomplished pastry chef, himself). But MadLab is where she’ll be most of her time the next few years. She also has plans to expand to other locations, where she’ll keep it “pink and girlie,” she said.