Cynthia Wong is probably the best pastry chef Charleston has ever seen. Her name has shown up on the James Beard list for Outstanding Pastry Chef many times, including this year. But winning awards doesn't seem to be her life's mission.
Instead, she says, "I've always wanted to to do my own thing, and I feel like this is the right opportunity."
Wong recently left her position at Butcher & Bee and has partnered up with Mary Oster, who also worked at B&B, to launch Life Raft Treats, a very modern take on the ice cream truck.
"(B&B) was my first pastry job," says Oster, who attended culinary school and worked at Bishop Gadsden before landing at B&B. "It took me a while to find my place, but finally meeting Cynthia. ... We both love ice cream, working hard and goofiness."
Part of that goofiness will manifest itself in the truck, currently being outfitted by Gorilla Fabrication. It will be mint green with navy and white nautical accents. It will have music. And it will have pictures on the side of the truck that you can point to when ordering. It's like the ice cream truck of your childhood, but filled with artisanal treats like the Not Fried Chicken, a fried chicken drumstick that's actually ice cream.
Other specialties will include the Strawburr Shortie, the Minty Cone (chocolate waffle cone with fresh mint chocolate chip ice cream dipped in chocolate), the Yuzu Coconut Taco, and the Cardi C, a cardamom coffee cake using Second State Coffee (formerly Black Tap Coffee).
Most ingredients will be local and seasonal and much of it will come from Wong's James Island backyard. "We have 10 fruit trees on the property," she says. They're planning to take advantage of pomegranates, pears, persimmons, figs, tangerines, peaches, mulberries, and loquats plus mint, lemon verbena an other herbs growing in raised boxes.
The ice cream truck should be ready to go in about five weeks.