Meet the Trader – Claire Kelsey, Ginger’s Comfort Emporium

While the market is closed due to coronavirus, we’re running a regular series of profiles of the wonderful traders who make and sell your favourite Levy Market products. Just who are these individuals who have an idea for something they want to create and the passion to give it a go? And how do they get from that stage to being on car-park in South Manchester (at times a rainy car-park) temporarily converted into an award-winning community market, where you, the customer, get to buy it?

First up, meet Claire Kelsey, loved – nay treasured – not just by the people of Levenshulme but by those of Manchester as a whole. Ginger’s Comfort Emporium, with its rolling menu of ‘ice cream for adults’, has become a bedrock of the city and one of the defining figures on its food and drink landscape: fun, bold, restlessly inventive and, most importantly, delicious. While markets, festivals and restaurants across the UK are currently closed, Ginger’s are continuing to produce their interesting and innovative ice cream and those interested in buying one of their mega-multi-award-winning 500ml tubs can get in touch by emailing

1. For those that may not know please tell us a bit about Ginger’s Comfort Emporium…
We make ice cream! Specifically, small batch, inventively flavoured real dairy ice cream, sorbet and vegan ice cream which we sell out of a 1997 Transit van. Everything that goes into our ice cream is made from scratch, from the custards and crumbles to caramels and fruit compote. Markets and festivals are our bread and butter, although we also do parties and weddings. We stock certain restaurants – Rudy’s, Sugo, Oystercatcher – and even have a parlour of our own in the Northern Quarter found on the 1st Floor in Affleck’s Palace. We were the winner of the British Street Food awards “Best Dessert” 2011, ’12, ’13 and winner of “Best Of The Best” 2012. Our ice cream recipe book MELT was published by Simon & Schuster in 2013. Phew!

2. What part of your work do you enjoy the most?
When it’s been so much hard work and stress to get ready for a huge UK festival, which I’ve had to travel the length of the country in the ice cream van, I get there, get everything set up, then I breathe. I grab a bottle of very cold prosecco or beer from the van, get my picnic out, chill, get ready to enjoy the festival vibes and congratulate myself of a job well (half) done.

3. What do you find the most challenging?
Day three or four of a festival when I’ve either got complete “people fatigue” or sales have been crap and I’m out of pocket and feeling disillusioned and fed up.

4. How have you found adapting to lockdown?
We have been doing the odd bit of selling out of our kitchen, but if I’m completely honest, this is our 10th year in business, and I’ve appreciated the time to stop and reflect about where I want to take things next year.

5. After 10 years do you ever get completely sick of ice-cream?
Making it, no! I’m endlessly interested in flavour combinations. I love the stuff. And I’ve never really made myself sick eating it either, aside from when I was compiling recipes for the book 7 years ago! 

6. How have markets changed since you began trading?
On the whole, I guess they have got busier, and a little bit more oriented towards entertainment as well as trade, which is a good thing. And I love the community spirit – it’s so important for people to have an area where they can connect with their neighbours, and do honest trade!

7. Has the market changed the way you feel about Levenshulme?
Yes, it’s a strange suburb in that it’s basically a main road with residential streets running through it – not much thought was given to communal events in its planning! An outsider might not see the community but the market is a hub, like a village square. 

As Claire mentioned, Ginger’s are continuing to create their wonderful ice cream and, occasionally, open up their kitchen to responsible, socially distanced customers. For updates, you can follow them on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Or you can email for more details.

AND REMEMBER. We have an ongoing database of all the regular traders you’d usually find at Levy Market but who are instead currently delivering their products direct to customers’ homes. This is a trying time for many small businesses so rest assured that by making a purchase you’d be doing your bit to support someone’s livelihood.

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