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Meet Brighton’s gelato ‘Willy Wonka’

Seb Cole of Boho Gelato in Pool Valley

Now open for over decade, Brighton’s Boho Gelato can rightly claim to be a pillar of the city’s quality food and drink scene. With July being the UK’s National Ice Cream Month, Nick Mosley gets the ‘scoop’ from ice cream maestro Seb Cole.

Your name, address and age and some background about you

I’m Seb Cole, aged 41. I grew up in South London but my family are from Ditchling originally so I visited the area every Sunday as a child and spent many a day in and around Brighton as I grew up. I attended the University of Sussex from 1998-2001 then moved to London for a few years before returning to Brighton in 2007.

Where are your Boho Gelato outlets?

I opened the original Boho Gelato in Brighton at 6 Pool Valley in 2010. Since then I opened in Weymouth in 2014 and then a second Brighton shop at 31 Ship Street in 2015 followed by a further outlet in Worthing.

How would you describe the offering of Boho Gelato?

We make high quality gelato using locally produced milk and cream and high quality ingredients sourced both locally and from around the world. We also have a range of vegan ices. What makes us unique is the combination of our quality with an ever-evolving selection of creatively conceived flavours. We change our flavours every day depending on what’s in season, customer requests or new ideas so you can always find something new and exciting!

Mariya Takeuchi and Seb Cole with chefs and producers - credit Julia Claxton

How many on your team and who are they?

At the moment I employ ten people across the business. I'm one for homegrown talent so, generally speaking, the team join us young, usually first as holiday part-time servers and then over a number of years grow into a larger role and often end up as full timers and ice cream makers.

How did the idea for your business come about?

Back in 2008, I was working for an Italian printing company and regularly travelled around Italy with our UK customers to see their jobs print at the factories. I would often take them for ice creams as it was a great treat to help kill time whilst waiting for the next print section to be run. I fell in love with proper Italian gelato and realised that in Brighton – and in fact pretty much the whole UK – there was nothing that compared to the flavours and quality I was tasting in Italy. So I decided to leave the world of printing to follow a dream: I bought machines, took the lease in Pool Valley and opened up!

How have you coped/adapted during the pandemic?

The pandemic has been a real hindrance to the walk-in shop business as we were closed a large part of last year. Even now we are still feeling the effect as we can only serve roughly half the customers in a day than we usually would due to social distancing guidelines meaning we can only invite one group inside at a time.

However, during the first lockdown I started offering home deliveries and this has been a revelation and it's something I definitely intend to keep going into the future. Also, luckily, some of our wholesale customers are home delivery companies and they have sold more than ever due to the pandemic so that helped to keep us going too when we were shut.

What would you like to tell people about your business?

I run Boho Gelato because it is what I love to do. As it is a production and retail business it is really hard work both physically and mentally but it is also very rewarding as working with ice cream provides a palette for endless flavour creation and fun. Without doubt the smiles from our happy customers as the cherry on the cake.

What are your plans/hopes for the future?

I’m looking forward to being able to get back to normal and for everything to be a bit more predictable than it has been the last 18 months. Once the dust has settled, who knows what the future will bring? I’m always one for new opportunities but I think a certain degree of caution needs to be kept in the short term until things are looking more stable – so I’m just keeping on making sure I enjoy what I’m doing.

Seb Cole of Boho Gelato at Nivarata Festival of Granita in Sicily in 2018

Anything else you’d like to tell us?

We’ve always supported local charity fundraising and over the years have raised money for charities through sponsored flavours or donations. We’re proud to have won industry awards both locally and nationally. Personally my career highlight so far has been visiting Sicily to compete for several years running as a chef in the Nivarata Granita festival.

Boho Gelato can be found at 6 Pool Valley and 31 Ship Street in Brighton, and 140 Montague Street in Worthing. Visit for more information.


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