Ashley Cheng, Owner & Partner / SPUN Ice Cream

“It was important to them that we went and got educations and didn’t end up in the food industry but somehow we did.”

photo credit: hakeem adewumi

photo credit: hakeem adewumi

The industry runs in the family, Ashely Cheng fully admits. The family landed in Austin in the seventies, with the help of her great uncle, a former math professor at Huston-Tillotson University, sponsoring their move. Looking back on it now, Ashley beams at the closeness of proximity between the SPUN Ice Cream flagship store and Huston-Tillotson in East Austin.

photo credit: hakeem adewumi

photo credit: hakeem adewumi

Her father owns Chinatown in the Bee Caves area (where she and her siblings learned the ways of industry, hands on) and her aunt owns Freda’s, a Cajun-influenced North Austin restaurant. She and her sister Christina, focused on degrees that weren’t based in the industry (Ashley went to Boston University and Christina went to UT after a stint at the University of Chicago). After a few years in journalism, Christina decided to get back in the family business and earned her pastry certificate from Le Cordon Bleu.

photo credit: hakeem adewumi

photo credit: hakeem adewumi

With the help of their cousin, Christopher, they opened SPUN in 2015. The trio manage the ice cream shop, with their focus on liquid nitrogen ice cream. “It’s not just a gimmick, it has a different texture. The ingredients are really fresh”, she says. Their focus of local and fresh ingredients and made from scratch mentality sets SPUN apart from other shops. Along with their flagship store on the East Side, they just opened their second location at the Domain along with their ice cream truck. “There’s so much room for creativity in the ice cream world. We focus on nostalgic, childhood flavors we grew up on”, Ashley points out. Not only does SPUN make it fun to play with your food, they tug at your heart strings with childhood flavor combos made for grown palettes.

photo credit: hakeem adewumi

photo credit: hakeem adewumi

photo credit: hakeem adewumi

photo credit: hakeem adewumi

photo credit: hakeem adewumi

photo credit: hakeem adewumi

photo credit: hakeem adewumi

photo credit: hakeem adewumi

photo credit: hakeem adewumi

photo credit: hakeem adewumi

photo credit: hakeem adewumi

photo credit: hakeem adewumi

photo credit: hakeem adewumi

photo credit: hakeem adewumi

Kendall & John Antonelli, Owners / Antonelli's Cheese Shop

“It’s a cheesy love story, through and through”, Kendall Antonelli says when she talks about the labor of love that is Antonelli’s Cheese Shop.

photo credit: irvianne torremoro

photo credit: irvianne torremoro

The two met in college, at Georgetown, and have been inseparable ever since. Kendall, hailing from North Texas, and John, coming from just outside of New York City, decided to move to Austin after college and get married. At the time, John was a CPA while Kendall worked for a local nonprofit in town. During their honeymoon, John turned around to Kendall and expressed his interest in the cheese business. They had no clue what was in store for them in that world but they decided that after the honeymoon, they’d pursue their dream. Two years later, the duo opened their doors to Antonelli’s Cheese Shop in Austin’s Hyde Park Neighborhood.

kendall antonelli, adorably showing us around the cheese shop. photo credit: irvianne torremoro

kendall antonelli, adorably showing us around the cheese shop. photo credit: irvianne torremoro

photo credit: irvianne torremoro

photo credit: irvianne torremoro

At first, the duo started out with themselves along with one other employee and have now expanded to 18 employees and plenty of regulars. Both their cheese shop and house have plenty of smiling faces willing able to help customers out in their selection of cheeses. They do practically everything: from working in wholesale with local restaurants and chefs, to their cheese of the month club, e-commerce, and events. 

photo credit: irvianne torremoro

photo credit: irvianne torremoro

At any given moment, there are about 75-100 cheeses in their store with an additional 100 cheeses at the cheese house, for local suppliers. Antonelli’s are proud members of the local Slow Food Austin chapter along with the Good Food Retailers Collaborative, supporting small businesses and entrepreneurs.

Though the cheese world can be very overwhelming, they break it down in seven different categories: fresh, bloomy/soft rind, washed rind, semi-soft, firm, hard, and blue. Feel free to walk into the cheese shop at any given moment and ask their friendly cheesemongers for a Cheese 101 Tutorial, they’re always happy to walk you through ‘em! Though they’re often asked whether they make their own cheeses, they do not, but Kendall’s response is, “We don’t craft cheese, we craft stories.” Their story is one made with an abundance of passion and love, between each other and for what they do.

photo credit: irvianne torremoro

photo credit: irvianne torremoro

Tessa Halstead, Chocolatier & Owner / Chocolaterie Tessa

To say that I have a sweet tooth is an understatement. Basically, walking into Chocolaterie Tessa’s space in North Austin is a dream come true. You’re usually greeted by Tessa Halstead, second generation chocolatier and owner, in a bright room which showcases her award-winning confectioneries, accompanied with the sweet smell of chocolates  being made right behind the counter.

photo credit: moyo oyelola

photo credit: moyo oyelola

photo credit: moyo oyelola

photo credit: moyo oyelola

Tessa comes from a family of chocolatiers, working with her father since she was fourteen. His chocolate shop started in 1983 and while she put the idea of chocolate making aside during college to pursue a career in corporate America, she found that chocolate has always been her calling. Her father had retired and she decided to pursue chocolate making with the start of her business in 2012. One of the machines she uses in her shop is her dad’s original that was housed in his shop thirty years ago. It made its way back into the family after they found it at an auction in Dallas and is now helping crank out more delicious goodies from Tessa.

photo credit: moyo oyelola

photo credit: moyo oyelola

photo credit: moyo oyelola

photo credit: moyo oyelola

“We stay focused on providing the best ingredients and everything is made fresh, no preservatives and it’s all natural”, Tessa states as she excitedly talks about the farmers and small companies she works with. The shop is filled with chocolate molds, conveyor belts, and smiling employees happily putting together flavors such as her award-winning salted caramel, bourbon pecan, and her Origin line: full of cacao beans from different countries such as the Dominican Republic, Papa New Guinea, Peru, and Ecuador.

photo credit: moyo oyelola

photo credit: moyo oyelola

photo credit: moyo oyelola

photo credit: moyo oyelola

photo credit: moyo oyelola

photo credit: moyo oyelola

photo credit: moyo oyelola

photo credit: moyo oyelola

She and her husband try to take a chocolate-related trip every year for research and development from France to Belgium and everything in between. Tessa’s face lights up every time she talks about chocolate making and the business. “One of things that’s special about chocolates is that people are happy when they come in. They have this person in mind that they want to buy a gift for, or they’re excited to try something new”, she elaborates with a grin ear to ear.  

photo credit: moyo oyelola

photo credit: moyo oyelola

photo credit: moyo oyelola

photo credit: moyo oyelola