One Year In: How did The Hans & René Gelateria Get Here

Our love for Hans & René is a bit of an open secret at this point. Everything about the brand is extremely well done, and no matter what side of the fence you sit on regarding Hans & René, you have to admit they are insanely creative. Evident from their masterful use of Instagram to the actual gelato flavors in the store. Hans & René has gone from little cupcake service with a blog to one of Lagos' favorite dessert spots with 3 branches.

There are a few burning questions we've always wanted to ask Tayo Bolodeoku (who is fondly referred to as Mrs. B), the creative director of Hans & René, and we finally got a chance to shoot our questions her way.

Hans & René used to be just cakes, what prompted you to make the jump to full blown gelateria?

I love food in general but I am a proper sweet tooth. I had always dreamt about having a sweet shop with ice cream, so from the very first day I baked, ice cream was always on my mind.

I decided that if I was going to do it and do it well I had to learn from the very best. Who makes the best cold creams? Italians. Off I went to school in Italy; not to learn how to make ice cream but gelato.

Does it annoy you, even just a little, when people refer to your gelato as ice cream? And also why gelato and not ice cream?

No, it doesn’t annoy me, rather I see it as an opportunity to educate them on what they are having and why they are actually enjoying it so much.

There are many differences in how it's made, what temperature it's stored at, recipes etc but I will give you two basic facts about the difference between gelato and ice cream

  1. Less air churned into it
  2. Wayyy less fat

The results are a richer, creamier texture, no grainy icicles, it is denser with little to no fat to dull your senses when you taste it. A customer of ours said on Twitter “comparing Hans and René gelato to any other ice cream brand in Nigeria is like comparing a store bought chocolate brand to artisanal prepared Belgian chocolate”. It is head swelling and humbling at the same time that people are actually starting to get it.

We heard all H&R flavors are made custom for you. Like, you actually fly to Italy and determine how chocolatey you want your chocolate to be. Is that true?

That question made me chuckle, I wish it were so easy! 

I'm proudly Nigerian and that means my palette is wonderfully complex with all the food we eat....crayfish today, ogbono tomorrow, sheri mangoes, agbalumo etc. We also have our funny feeling about sugar and jedi jedi.

It is our recipe, custom made by us here in Lagos.

Before we opened, we worked extensively with Maestro’s and specialists in the gelato making world in Italy on the technical side of making the gelato.

We did this because as you know, we produce in-house daily and create new flavors on the fly. It was important to ensure that if we tweaked things a little bit that our work wouldn't fall apart.

With the help of my palate and expertise, we came up with our recipes. So to answer your question; There will never be a chocolate brownie gelato that tastes like a Hans and René Chocolate brownie gelato. It is our recipe, custom made by us here in Lagos. We learned the technicalities from the Italians but we refined the process with our own creativity. After all agbalumo, cashew fruit and zobo don’t grow in Italy.

Are there any plans to add savory items to Hans & René's offerings?

Watch this space closely......

Where's your favorite place to go when you need inspiration?

I draw inspiration from everything I see so I don’t have a particular place; however, I wake up at 3am every day and begin to download, research and write down all I have seen and don’t want to forget; that is my favorite time. The world is still and quiet and I can think.

Finish the following sentences

My favorite restaurant in Lagos is … Is it terrible that I don’t eat out much? I like to cook and eat at home with my family.

My all time favorite cupcake flavor is … Good old vanilla!

The best part of my job is … Experimenting in the lab and then seeing people enjoy what I've created makes me really happy.

If I wasn't doing this, I would be … A full-time mummy!

Jollof Rice or Amala … Amala. With gbegiri and ewedu...yes please!!!!

The third Hans & René After Dark is tonight (Saturday, June 4 2016). You should swing by and say hi to Mrs. B.

Ed Note: Hans & René gelateria is one, but they've been making cakes for six years.