It all started with a Christmas present. Last December, chef Jonathan Zaragoza (Birrieria Zaragoza) gifted his girlfriend, Jennifer Contraveos, with a state-of-the-art ice cream maker. Almost immediately, the couple whipped up their first frozen dessert: a swirl of cinnamon-scented Mexican hot chocolate ice cream. But it wasn't until Zaragoza and Contraveos found themselves in quarantine that they realized their new hobby could be so much more.
"Quarantine gave us a lot of time, and we were making a couple new ice creams a week," says Contraveos, who's been in the food and beverage industry for almost 20 years and currently works as a senior portfolio ambassador for Bacardi. "One day, [Jonathan] bought us some to-go containers and it sparked an idea. The weather was just starting to get nice and we thought, 'Well, hell, what does everybody want in the summertime? Ice cream! Let's give it to them.'"
And so A Sundae Kind of Love was born, named for the Etta James love song by the same-ish title. Last month, the couple launched their concept at Sundae Mondays, a collaboration between Pretty Cool Ice Cream and Longman & Eagle that benefits Black Lives Matter Chicago. Their debut sundae included scoops of sweet corn ice cream topped with ancho abuelita magic shell, salted cajeta and cinnamon buñuelos.
"We're both creative and we're both ideas people. This is a good canvas for us to explore together," Zaragoza says. "It's another creative muscle that we're exercising, and it's cool because we get to do it with the person that we love and for people who hopefully love what we do."
A Sundae Kind of Love will host its next event on Sunday, August 9 from noon to 5pm at an undisclosed location in Logan Square. Curious ice cream aficionados can email or DM organizers for location details. The couple will be dishing out scoops of tart lemon sherbet that's rippled with Michigan blueberry compote and recreating the sweet corn sundae they served at Longman & Eagle last month.
Zaragoza and Contraveos say they hope to develop four distinct flavors per season that are rooted in fresh produce (they just got back from a trip to Michigan for blueberries and cherries) and incorporate ingredients that reflect their shared Mexican heritage.
"I'm born and raised first-generation Mexican, and Jennifer also has a Mexican background," Zaragoza says. "That's my go-to—it's what I know how to do really well. If ever I can incorporate that somehow, it will be there."
The duo hoped to launch their concept with a live music component, imagining that people might mill about while eating their ice cream. Due to current social-distancing guidelines, that's not possible right now, but they'll have a soundtrack of some of their favorite love songs playing in the background.
A brick-and-mortar scoop shop isn't in the works just yet, but Zaragoza and Contraveos say they're keeping an open mind about the future of A Sundae Kind of Love. For now, they're perfectly content being under the radar.
"My family restaurant started out of my house on the South Side. There are a lot of parallels," Zaragoza says. "This is a love child of what we are and truly embodies what Jennifer and I bring to the table."
Follow A Sundae Kind of Love on Instagram for updates on upcoming events and flavors.
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