Who Knew: You Guys, There’s a Secret Ice Cream Club


Chocolate-covered potato chip ice cream from Karla's Kreamery

‘Who Knew?’ is sponsored by Walter Stewart’s Market.

You don’t need to watch The Bear (although if you haven’t, let’s remedy that immediately–I’ll wait) to know that the heart of every culinary business is community, not commodity.

We eat to stay alive, of course, but what makes being alive so darn enjoyable is the variety of things we get to eat and the people we get to meet along the way to find our next meal. To that end, it might behoove you to know that New Canaan has a homegrown, handmade micro-batch ice cream business that specializes in artful, adventurous flavor combinations, created by local chef and mom Karla Sorrentino. She dreams up kinds of ice cream that you’d have to travel far to find elsewhere, ones that would make Willy Wonka blush. Think strawberry rose. Banoffee. Ube-coconut cookies and cream. Chocolate-covered potato chip. I repeat: chocolate-covered potato chip.

Prettiest in pink?: Karla’s strawberry rose ice cream

It seems that Karla Sorrentino has built a community around what any toddler can correctly confirm for you is the world’s most important commodity: ice cream.

Karla’s Kreamery began as a bit of a pandemic daydream for Sorrentino, a classically trained savory chef.

Karla Sorrentino. All photos in this article were provided by Ms. Sorrentino.

“It was a snowstorm,” she says. “We were locked in the house, and I was thinking about Japan, which is one of my favorite countries, and some of the interesting ice cream flavors that they have. We spent a winter in Hokkaido and in Sapporo; in February, they had an ice festival. It was very cool, very Arctic. And I just looked outside in Connecticut, and it made me think of Hokkaido, and I wanted kombu (seaweed) ice cream. So I went online, and I sourced this beautiful hand-harvested seaweed from off the coast of Hokkaido. It took weeks to arrive at my house.  But it arrived, and I opened up the package, and I was so excited. I decided to make a yuzu kosho caramel to swirl over the top.”

From these unusual musings, an extraordinary business was born. Today, Karla’s community follows her closely on Instagram to learn about new flavor drops and preview her monthly subscription service. Hot tip: I gave my husband a 6-month gift subscription to Karla’s Kreamery for an anniversary gift a while back, and it was extremely well-received.

Salted vanilla & roasted peanut ice cream, inspired by Chinese ice cream flavors


And though we’re lucky she’s based here, her reach goes beyond New Canaan’s town limits. Karla’s Kreamery has families of fans who cross state lines (easy enough to do in the tri-state area, but please allow me the drama of this statement) with a cooler in the car to meet her in the courtyard behind Uncorked to take home pints of her latest.

Growing up in a bicultural Stamford household with an Ecuadorian mother and an Italian-American father, Karla was exposed to rich culinary traditions early on. Her interest in cooking started to take shape when she was in high school. She loved to watch all those excellent PBS cooking shows like Great Chefs, Yan Can Cook, and The Frugal Gourmet, “not because I knew I wanted to be a chef at that point, but because I just really liked that world.”

Inspired by a course catalog that arrived in the mail, she decided to take an adult continuing education class in cooking taught by CIA-trained chef Tom Mirto. Note to everyone who, like my husband, might not have known: the CIA, in this case, is the Culinary Institute of America, not the spy thing.

Chocolate peanut butter pretzel. COME ON.


Among her peers in the class, who were mostly middle-aged women, Karla stood out as a promising, enthusiastic student, eager to learn the basics of the culinary arts and keep going.

Driven by her newfound passion, Karla set her sights on attending the CIA in Hyde Park, New York. To get in, she knew the importance of first nailing down some hands-on experience. She started as a hostess at a local restaurant and later took up prep work at Viscardi’s Colonial Inn, an Italian-Greek family restaurant.

These early experiences were instrumental in shaping up her culinary skills and preparing her for the rigors of the CIA. At the CIA, Karla pursued a degree in Culinary Arts and, later, a bachelor’s in Hospitality Management, completing both in just three and a half years. During her time there, she was mentored by Chef Christian Bertrand, a former head chef at Lutèce, who initially tried to steer her towards baking and pastry (chefs, like doctors, have to choose their specialty while still in school) because it was deemed more suitable for women. (Of all the industries that archaically cling to systemic sexism, restaurants have, for decades, quite literally baked it in.)

Black cherry-Okinawan sugar ice cream, yuzu confiture, graham brown butter cookie pie crust, marshmallow fluff, yuzu salt. Can you even? I cannot.


However, Karla’s conviction in her instinct for the savory side led her to persist. She wrote Chef Bertrand letters every day for two weeks and ultimately succeeded in securing an externship under him in Ridgefield, Connecticut. There, she honed her skills and learned the fundamentals, like not throwing away delicious, valuable duck fat.

Her post-CIA career took her through various esteemed culinary establishments, including working under Todd English and participating in events at the James Beard House. Throughout these experiences, Karla cultivated a deep respect for food, emphasizing ethical sourcing and whole-animal butchery, principles that continue to guide her today, if butchery is somewhat less applicable to the production of ice cream.

After opening for business in 2022, Karla’s Kreamery quickly gained fans. Despite mid-pandemic production challenges and the need to work from a commercial kitchen to adhere to state regulations, her business took off quickly. Karla’s cult following was built because her flavors address a real gap in the ice cream market.

“I was making flavors that either just didn’t exist, but I felt they should, or maybe they exist but are so hard to find. It was a very self-serving way for me to be able to eat the ice cream I wanted to eat. So it wasn’t some noble thing like, hey, I need to make ice cream because there’s no good ice cream out there. There’s plenty of good ice cream. This was just more like, hey, I want to eat this particular flavor. No one else makes it. So I will.”

Tortoni, inspired by the frozen Italian dessert created by Neapolitans in Paris: Almond ice cream, amaretti cookies, candied & salted slivered almonds.


Now, her monthly pop-up sells out in minutes, and there’s a waiting list for her subscription slots. Sorrentino’s creations reflect her commitment to quality and creativity, as much as they serve as love letters to the countries she’s visited and the cultures she loves. When she announced a Salted Duck Egg ice cream drop, a Chinese woman from Westchester County drove up to snag herself a pint because she had never found it outside of China. “It’s very endearing. I love getting to meet and know people in this way.”

Any ice cream is a path to joy, and Karla takes immense pride in knowing that her ice creams spark curiosities. Stories of families discussing the origins of her flavors over the dessert table validate the creative risks she takes. Her offerings aren’t just about the commodity of ice cream; they’re about experiencing new cultures and flavors in a way that feels personal and engaging.

Even while balancing the demands of motherhood, Karla’s commitment to her craft hasn’t waned. She continues to draw joy and inspiration from her family, including her husband, who she met at the CIA, and her two young daughters. Her story shows us how a deep-rooted love for food and culture can transform a simple desire for seaweed ice cream into an extraordinary culinary journey, one on which we’re all welcome aboard.

Atlantic Beach Pie ice cream


A real estate broker in town used to use a hashtag on her Instagram posts about New Canaan that I always thought was wonderfully apt: #amillionwaystolivewell. I love the suggestion that there isn’t one prescribed way to spend our days on this green earth, but as many as there are people. Is it a bit marketing-ese? Sure. But it’s also delightfully viable. While this column has evolved as a handy means for me to explore the many ways people choose to spend their time and talents, I’ve fallen a little more in love with all the different stories that play out in New Canaan, and the various ways people fulfill that promise of living well. As for living well, I’ll scroll past the generic influencer lifestyles and predictable vacation hotspots.

I’d prefer to live well like Karla Sorrentino.

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Follow Karla’s Instagram to keep up with her flavor drops, or send her an email to get your name on the wait list for her subscription service.

Hot tip #2: you can also find her Birthday Cake ice cream on the menu at Uncorked.

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