My Life At Home

The Downside to White Walls, According to Ice Cream Mogul Natasha Case

A peek into where the Coolhaus founders live and eat ice cream.

April  5, 2019
Photo by Miriam Bribiesca

Welcome to My Life at Home, where we slow down for just a minute to share a glimpse into the lives of food lovers we'd love to get to know better. Kick off your shoes and get comfy!

Natasha Case knows that building a good ice cream sandwich is as much a science as it is an art.

In fact, her ice cream company Coolhaus—which she founded in 2009 with her now-wife, Freya Estreller—was born out of a career in architecture.

"The inspiration for Coolhaus started when co-founder Natasha was exploring the concept of 'farchitecture'—or, food plus architecture," reads its website. "The concept originated with the broader notion that design could enhance one's eating experience, and, by the same token, that food could bring awareness to the the design field, especially during the recession." (The first iterations of their lauded sandwiches were called things like Frank Behry and Mies Vanilla Rohe.)

Today, Coolhaus has a booming retail business, as well as trucks and scoop shops in L.A. and Dallas, proffering towering "sammies" and peerless pint flavors like Buttered French Toast.

Case's love of design extends, naturally, to her home-life in Southern California, where ice cream for dessert is as ubiquitous as, well, sunshine. Food52 correspondent and ice cream fan-extraordinaire Hana Asbrink spoke with Case to learn more about how she lives:

Photo by Miriam Bribiesca

HANA ASBRINK: Please tell us a bit about yourself, and what you do.

NATASHA CASE: I’m an L.A. native, former architect turned "farchitect" (food and architecture). I play the saxophone and speak Italian. I love basketball, golf, and tennis. I’m the CEO and co-founder of Coolhaus ice cream, where I head up innovation, brand, creative, and marketing. I love what I do—truly, it’s a dream and I’m thankful every day. It’s just so damn fun. I have an amazing wife, Freya Estreller. We founded Coolhaus together. She's my biggest advocate and critic, and truly makes me my best self. She now runs ops at Tea Drops and is a fellow founder of Future Gin. We have a two year-old son, Remy, who is so full of life and is our inspiration to build our empires!

HA: How long have you lived in your current home? Who lives here with you?

NC: We bought the house in September of 2015, and I live here with Freya, Remy, and our two dogs, Hamilton and Scoob.

Photo by Miriam Bribiesca

HA: Describe your decorating style. What (and who) are you influenced by?

NC: I love a mix of California beachy bohemian and mid-century. We’ve more or less blended that with our bungalow-style home. We like a lot of muted navy blue, clean whites with things like our Upstate shibori-dyed curtains (in our bedroom), and Slim Aarons photographs. We have a house in Palm Springs, and that too has a strong Southern California feel: soft, worn textures with some mid-century pieces like our Saarinen marble table. But you’re in the desert, so you want to pay homage to that, which we did with a really cool custom neon sign and the landscaping. So, I’d say at the end of the day, we bring a California-bohemian angle.

Photo by Miriam Bribiesca

HA: What are your favorite home retailers?

NC: Upstate, Sunbeam Vintage in Highland Park, and Article.

HA: Something you hate-to-love or love-to-hate about your home?

NC: We have lots of white walls, and now that Remy has gotten in touch with his creative side, he's always drawing with (washable) crayons on the walls! Sometimes he’s so into his artist mode, it’s hard to intervene, but we can’t go on with toddler versions of Jackson Pollocks all over the house.

HA: What's your favorite nook of your home?

NC: Definitely somewhere outdoors—a tie between our private courtyard off the master bedroom—perfect for morning matcha, reading, and basking in sunshine—and the lounge furniture toward the front of our garden where our best veggie boxes are. Often there are ladybugs and butterflies in this part of our garden, and it’s a great place to have early evening apéro, like Future Gin negronis!

Photo by Miriam Bribiesca

HA: If your walls could talk, what would they say?

NC: I picture the walls personified: They would be laughing and telling funny stories, because Freya and I love to host and entertain at our house. I feel super lucky that we always have great groups over, making merry, eating delicious food, and drinking delicious cocktails and natural wine.

HA: Where will we find you on any given weeknight?

NC: On weeknights, we have our meals in our dining room toward the back of the house. It opens onto another veggie garden and gets amazing early evening glow. The Slim Aarons photo really lights up. This room is perfect for a casual family meal, or dresses up well for when we have company. It’s also where I keep my mid-century bar.

Photo by Miriam Bribiesca

HA: How often are you cooking? Is Freya also a cook? If so, how do you negotiate two cooks in the kitchen?

NC: Especially now that we have Remy, we cook a lot more than we dine out. When we met, Freya and I both cooked a ton; over time, she became more so the cook of main courses, and I kind of handled apps, salads, and cocktails (and serving Coolhaus for dessert). So, we like to say I’m front of house, and Freya is back of house. It works super well for hosting because I can greet the guests more easily, but we do have an open kitchen, so Freya is never totally off alone cooking.

HA: How often do you entertain? How often are you able to spend time at home?

NC: Two to three times a week on average, often more. We both make it a priority to be home and enjoy our home life.

HA: Okay, I must ask: What is your favorite ice cream flavor of all-time? And how often are you eating ice cream?

NC: I taste ice cream every day, often more than once—there are constant approvals needed for piloting new flavors and products. But I rarely eat a whole serving. All-time? Tie between our Chocolate Chip and Tahitian Vanilla Bean sammie, Aunt Gladys' pint, and Dairy-Free Horchata sammie!

Photo by Miriam Bribiesca

HA: What are your top three kitchen tools?

NC: Paring knife, ice cream scoop, cocktail stirrer.

HA: What's on your playlist right now?

NC: Jimmy Edgar, Kurt Vile, The Internet, Patrice Rushen, J. Cole, Matt Martians, J*Davey… I could go on!

HA: And, your favorite Food52 recipes?

NC: I love some of the no-bake dessert recipes, like this Oreo dessert, and the cooking hacks, like these 15-second scrambled eggs. And this recipe for escabeche tacos is so light and summery. Things that Remy loves? Zucchini!

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

What do you love most about Natasha's house? Let us know in the comments!
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Ella Quittner

Written by: Ella Quittner

Ella Quittner is a contributing writer and the Absolute Best Tests columnist at Food52. She covers food, travel, wellness, lifestyle, home, novelty snacks, and internet-famous sandwiches. You can follow her on Instagram @equittner, or Twitter at @ellaquittner. She also develops recipes for Food52, and has a soft spot for all pasta, anything spicy, and salty chocolate things.

1 Comment

marianne April 5, 2019
I absolutely love Coolhaus. We finally have pretty good access to it here in South Florida. It’s so nice to learn a little about the ladies behind the brand. Somehow, the whole ice cream experience is richer (no pun intended!) knowing they are nice, normal, interesting people!