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Humphry Slocombe: Ice Cream for Adults

If just for the name, I’ll be stopping by Humphry Slocombe, the latest ice cream shop to hit the Mission, slated to open a few weeks from now. (If this weather continues I’d advise lining up starting right now at 2790 Harrison at 24th Street.) The brainchild of Jake Godby, the opening pastry chef at Coi (who also spent time in the kitchens of Boulevard, Fifth Floor and the defunct Tartare), Humphry has no designs on being the ice cream-for-everyone shop (witness flavors such as salted licorice, salt-and-pepper and sweet corn-and-blackberry). Godby gave us the scoop.

How did you come up with the name?

I spent a lot of time when I was at Ohio State in art school smoking pot and watching Are You Being Served? with my friends. It’s a cheesy, over-the-top British farce. Mr Humphry and Mr. Slocombe are characters on it.

What compelled you to open an ice cream shop?

I’m getting older—I’m 38—and I don’t mind working 16 hours a day, but I want to do it for myself. The original idea was I was going to have a truck, but with all the city regulations, I decided not to do it. Have you ever noticed there are no ice cream trucks in the city? If you want a mobile permit, it’s about $15,000 a year. Plus, the FDA requires a clean room, where you can’t make anything but ice cream in that space, so I had to build my own and open a shop around it.

But why ice cream?

Artisinal ice cream is going to be the new cupcake—Ici, Sketch, Bi-Rite in the Mission. And who doesn’t like ice cream? It’s fun and it makes people smile.

What flavors can we look forward to?

Sixteen a day. Probably eight that will rotate. There’s always going to be vanilla and chocolate, but probably more ice cream for grownups. The one I really like is called Secret Breakfast. It’s bourbon ice cream with caramelized cornflakes. I’m doing a balsamic-caramel since Bi-Rite does a salted caramel. I just got permission from Blue Bottle to make Blue Bottle Vietnamese ice cream.

Any busts?

Porcini wasn’t very good. Foie gras has an appeal to some people and not for others. I’m going to occasionally have foie gras ice cream sandwiches with gingersnap.

What’s the key to great ice cream?

Bad ice cream is gummy and full of stabilizers and leaves a film in the mouth, you know? Mine is pretty dense with a little bit of chew. I’m definitely not afraid of salt or assertive flavors.

I know you’ve suffered some of the usual city setbacks and worse.

I’ve been working on the shop for a year and a half now. There was a break-in and they ripped out all the copper pipes and tore the place apart. I had to change contractors last week because of a failed inspection. I’m not sure I would have started if I had known how hard it would be. I yearn for a paycheck.

What neighborhood do you live in?

I live in the Mission—a block away from Bi-Rite Creamery.

What’s the best ice cream you’ve ever had?

There’s one in NY that I like—Il Laboratorio. And Berthillon [Glacier] in Paris has some of the best ice cream in the world. There’s an intensity of flavor and they’re incredibly rude. There’s just something very French about the whole place.

Are you going to be rude?

I hope not. I’m not French.