An Islandmagee ice cream maker has tasted double success at the National Ice Cream Competition.
Ross Hawkins, who runs The Rinkha ice cream parlour on Middle Road, received a silver challenge cup in the open flavour class and the shield for ‘best of the best flavour’ for his Turkish delight ice cream at the event organised by the Ice Cream Alliance.
Ross said: “It’s a great feeling obviously. We have entered the contest before, receiving diplomas and diplomas of merit.
“My father and grandfather also used to enter the competition with our plain vanilla, receiving diplomas of merit, but we have never won an award before.”
He explained that the business goes back four generations with the ice cream recipe created in 1921 by his great-grandmother Henrietta Hawkins. His great grandfather WJ Hawkins built the current premises in 1937 as a dance hall and was famous for its Canadian maple sprung floor, attracting revellers from all parts of the country.
“It was called The Rinkha as an Irish interpretation meaning place of dance or place of mirth,” Ross added. “The business was passed down through the generations with the family being at the heart of it, I am the fourth generation and it’s still the same family business, with my mother Liz, father William and youngest brother Harry very much involved, we have a fantastic team of hard working staff many of whom their parents and grandparents either worked or danced in The Rinkha, so its very much a family friendly atmosphere.”
He pointed out that all the Rinkha ice cream is hand made on site and sold exclusively in the parlour apart from its vanilla & honeycomb ice cream, which is sold in a new restaurant, the Lighthouse Bistro in Whitehead, which specialises in local cuisine.
“Our traditional ice cream is available all year round, with exciting seasonal variations as well as the constant classics,” he said. “During the summer months, people travel from far and wide, filling our car park to savour delicious 99s and sliders, or take their cones and tubs to go and enjoy Brown’s Bay, Portmuck, The Gobbins, or any of the other beautiful sights of Islandmagee, some of the most stunning scenery in Northern Ireland.”
Zelica Carr, chief executive officer of The Ice Cream Alliance, said: “It would have been a significant achievement for The Rinkha to win one ICA award for the first time, against competition from all over the UK, but to win two is fantastic, and Ross deserves our congratulations.”