London's real Willy Wonkas

Step into a world where anything is edible with London's most creative confectioners (then try their tricks for yourself!)



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They’ve made houses out of chocolate, oceans out of jelly and ice cream that tastes like Christmas. As a big new musical version of Roald Dahl’s ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’ opens in London, we went in search of London’s real-life Willy Wonkas – and their amazing creations.

Chin Chin Labs

© Ed Marshall

Sweetcorn. Runner beans. Salad cream. The folks at Chin Chin Labs don’t seem to think there’s anything that can’t be improved by being exposed to nitrogen and turned into ice cream. Phil Harrison went to find out just how right they are.

What’s your signature flavour?
‘We have seasonal favourites. For Wimbledon, we did strawberry and hay ice cream using hay-infused milk. And we did Christmas-tree ice cream, which tastes like the smell of a Christmas tree.’

How long does it take to make one ice cream?
‘It used to be four minutes but we’ve got it down to about a minute now. When it’s busy, I’ll do five at a time. All the mixers going and nitrogen billowing everywhere!’

So it’s a spectacle too…
‘Of course. Although sometimes people think it’s a gimmick. And it’s not – nitrogen makes the smoothest, most dense ice cream. People don’t always get how much love goes in to each one!’

Any disasters?
‘When the volcanic ash cloud happened we tried ash-flavoured ice cream. We incinerated gunpowder tea and then strained it through muslin. It tasted like grit.’

Any more inventions we should know about?

‘Sour cherry gummy ice cream. It sets because of all the gelatine; we call it “the gumsicle”. People love it! We always get plenty of requests for it for birthdays.’

Can you cook with nitrogen at home?
‘Yes. Get some dry ice, blitz it into a powder, then add it to your ice cream base little by little. You’ve got to make sure it’s really finely ground. If pieces are too big, they’ll burn your mouth.’

Chin Chin Labs 49-50 Camden Lock Place, NW1 8AF.

Try making Chin Chin Labs’ ‘Violet Beauregarde’ ice cream

Willy Wonka made ice cream which never melted. Chin Chin Labs special skill is making ice cream with dry ice. Here’s how to whip up its Violet-inspired Blueberry Dark Choc (Potato) Chip recipe (yes, it has crisps in).

Makes one litre – enough for five-six people

- Valrhona 70 percent chocolate
- One handful of Tyrrells ‘Furrows’ crisps
- 50g sugar
- 250g golden syrup
- A thumb of organic liquorice rope
- 150ml blueberry juice
- 800g blueberries (frozen, fresh or, even better, wild)

  • Step 1

    Melt the chocolate, then coat the crisps with it. Lay them flat on greaseproof paper before placing in the fridge.

    Step 1
  • Step 2

    Make a light caramel by combining the sugar, syrup, liquorice and juice. When it reaches 110 degrees celsius, throw in the berries and simmer for 4 mins until the blueberries start to release their juices and the liquid thickens. Cool and blitz in a processor.

    Step 2
  • Step 3

    Put the dry ice in a kitchen cloth and pound into a fine sand. Be very careful to remove all lumps from dry ice and wear gloves and safety goggles while handling it – it can burn your mouth if it’s not crushed finely. In a stand-mixer pour in the blueberry base and keep adding the dry ice until the base is frozen.

    Step 3
  • Step 4

    Right at the end throw in a handful of crisps and mix them through.

    Step 4
  • Step 5

    Decorate with more chocolate crisps, or anything else you fancy (we use toasted white chocolate) and serve.

    If you can’t get your hands on any dry ice, freeze in an ice cream machine instead.

    Step 5

Step 1

Melt the chocolate, then coat the crisps with it. Lay them flat on greaseproof paper before placing in the fridge.

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Users say

Jonny and Amy
Jonny and Amy

Easily the the funnest, most delicious, exciting and every updating, tasty ice cream place in London. It always tastes amazing, everyone is very helpful, extremely pleasant and the atmosphere is perfect - chilled out and fun. We've lost count of the number of times we've hurried from the tube station/bus stops to get there before closing.


I am from Manchester and whenever I visit London, I make sure to fit in a trip to Camden for a scoop (or two) of Chin Chin ice cream. It's incredible to watch the process...and the ice cream itself? The best you will ever taste. 5 stars aren't enough for this hidden gem, highly recommended.

More about 'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory'

Watch interviews with the cast and production team and get your hands on those golden tickets with our 'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory' information page. Read more about the production

  1. Theatre Royal Drury Lane
  2. Until Sat Nov 30

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