The Scoop on Ici


After many years working in professional kitchens including a 9 year tenure as pastry chef at Chez Panisse in Berkeley, Mary opened Ici in September 2006. Inspired by her passion for ice cream, Mary set out to create a place of her own where fresh, natural and beautiful things were made. Ice cream is not only her favorite food, it affords her endless opportunities to express her creativity. While the fine dining plated desserts she created at Chez Panisse were challenging and delicious, ice cream provided a new venue within which she could take flights of fancy with flavors and textures within a relatively tightly focused context. She is very satisfied knowing Ici is supporting organic farmers and providing an honest and fun treat for the many people that pass through the doors. In addition, Mary wanted to build a supportive work environment in which employees could thrive as collaborators, expressing their own creativity and deepening their passions. All of this takes form at Ici where you will find Mary in back dreaming of all things sweet. Mary lives in Oakland with her husband, Paul, and their two wonderful daughters.


From Mary, about her partners and collaborators: 

Ici has been so fortunate with many important collaborators over the years. First and foremost is my amazing and talented partner Mattea Soreng. She started out as lead sous chef and became a partner very early on. She was instrumental in co-creating so many wonderful aspects of Ici and worked tirelessly for 8 years in the shop. From recipe development to complicated operational solutions to just cooking circles around everyone, Ici would not be what it is today without her.  

Another key member of our opening team was PJ Pawelek. From before we opened the doors PJ was a solid part of the team and helped Ici shape itself into what it is today. Although PJ left in 2010 and Mattea in 2014 they still influence my thoughts and ideas to this day.  

There are so many instrumental, creative and hardworking individuals that we have been lucky to know and work with who have helped shape Ici too. Nick, Aaron, Avery, Sadie, Alisa, Brittany, Katie, Sloane, Caitlin, Kiera, both Annie F's. and Peggy, Ernesto, the Guthrie siblings, Megan, Kelly, Sam, Oliver, Tania, Manuel and Ozzy. Too many to mention really. Each person unique helping us grow while having fun. Thanks to all of you and all the others including present day people too long to list! 

One last group is so important and so dear to me. Our hardworking, dedicated cone makers work tirelessly year after year making your cones. From our cone founder, Aurelia, to the many other present day all-stars: Aurora, Ana, Nancy and Ema- we would not be here without them. Solid.Cone.Team. 

Someday we will have a reunion of all the people we have known and worked with. It will be the biggest and best Ici dance party of all time. Wigs optional. 

Mary Canales