Ice cream chef says goodbye but shop stays open
Whipped Apia’s founder and gelato chef Chloe Fa’aiuaso is setting off the United States next week, and is happy to announce her mother Trisha Walsh is taking over.
It is her last shift in the shop today, and to celebrate, she has ordered a batch of churros to serve up with her own chocolate sauce and of course, gelato.
Ms Fa’aiuaso opened Whipped Apia in November 2017, offering Samoa its first ever local gelateria. After her fiancé Mason Holmes proposed to her, the pair knew eventually their life would move to his hometown in Washington DC – at least for a while.
“We’re going to go over for a few years, get a head start over there. If the stars align we will be back, and hopefully we can open a Whipped in America, run that for a few years then come back bigger and better,” she said.
Ms Fa’aiuaso said before Whipped, she hated being in a kitchen, and she even hates dessert.
“Thinking about going into this that was my biggest fear, how am I meant to provide food for people?”
“All of my friends said you, owning something to do with food, how does that compute, but now I have had a successful business and I have learned so much.”
But despite that, she said she has found a passion for food, and the constant learning that comes with it.
“Oh, can you – its 150 grams of pistachio, thank you,” she says to her fiancé, who is making a new patch of gelato on the other side of the counter during the interview.
“And 130 of the lime milkshake, in the fridge.”
Watching her serve customers, waiting patiently for their toddlers to carefully choose a flavour, it is clear how much love Ms Fa’aiuaso has for her work and her shop.
She hugs regular customers who squeeze in a sweet fix on their way home from shopping, and insists on whipping up a special batch for another customer’s birthday.
“Do you want us to make a mint chocolate chip, and you can pick it up tomorrow?” Ms Fa’aiuaso said, interrupting a sale of an imperfect flavour choice.
She tells a doting boyfriend in the shop that he can pick up a batch of gelato tomorrow, his girlfriend’s birthday.
“It’s not going out of our way to do that kind of thing, I know it’s her favourite, so why not?” she said, returning to the interview.
Based in Vailima, opposite the Manumea Hotel, Whipped Apia has become part of the food-scene furniture. Friendships and business connections have been formed over a waffle cone of koko Samoa or siamu popo flavoured gelato, and that is what Ms Fa’aiuaso said she will miss the most.
“But I think when people are coming in, and asking what is this flavour, where is that fruit from… the space isn’t that big, so that opens it up to having other people join in the conversation,” she said.
“People come in, they overhear a conversation and it becomes a real knowledge sharing place, it’s been really awesome.”
Since announcing on Facebook last week she planned to close, Ms Fa’aiuaso has been inundated with visitors coming to say goodbye. Some were there to buy gelato too, but mostly they wanted to hug and kiss their dear friend, and wish her well.
“The amount of people that have said go, we’re really happy for you… there is no judgement, no anything, about having to close a business that has only been open a year,” she said.
“Everyone is just really proud of me for following my heart. That makes it much easier.
“We’ve been really blessed.”
When Ms Fa’aiuaso and Mr Holmes decided to relocate to Washington, Ms Fa’aiuaso thought she would have to lock the doors of Whipped forever. She handed in her two weeks’ notice to the landlord, and the two of them cried, she said, laughing a little.
But her mother, Trisha Walsh offered to step in.
“When we said we were closing, she said oh, did you want to close? Or do you want me to run it?
“Whipped wouldn’t be here at all, or what it is, without her and Mike.”
Mrs Walsh is returning to New Zealand with her husband, outgoing Deputy High Commissioner Mike Walsh, but will return to Samoa. She will publish new opening hours soon enough, Ms Fa’aiuaso said.
“How well this has done has been amazing, having the people we’ve met, it’s so special to me.
“Knowing that I have set up the brand is cool, the product is great but it’s just hard to leave our customers that have been coming in.”
Ms Fa’aiuaso will be back in May, and will take a portable freezer around the Pacific Games in July. After that, Whipped Apia may have to close its doors permanently.
“I really thought [today] was going to be the end, but we do have a little more time!”