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Not so 'Super Secret' anymore: A North Country ice cream shop is one of NH's James Beard Award nominees

A hand holds three colorful scoops of ice cream — a mix of deep purple and berry shades — in front of a blue mountainous mural.
Courtesy
/
@supersecreticecream on Instagram

Three New Hampshire chefs have made it onto the list of semifinalists for the James Beard Awards. The James Beard Awards pay homage to chefs and the culinary arts throughout the United States.

Chef Chris Viaud — who owns Greenleaf and Ansanm in Milford, as well as Pavilion in Wolfeboro — was nominated for Outstanding Restaurateur. He has also scored nominations in the past, and served Haitian-inspired dishes at the 2023 awards ceremony.

Chef Lee Frank, of Otis Restaurant in Exeter, was also nominated for Best Chef in the Northeast, and Kristina Zontini, of Super Secret Ice Cream in Bethlehem, was nominated for Outstanding Pastry Chef or Baker.

In an interview on Thursday, Zontini said she was completely surprised to learn of her nomination.

“I don't think it’s really sunk in yet,” Zontini said. “We thought we were being phished. I didn’t think it was real.”

A person joyfully hoists an ice cream cone in the air, standing in front of an ice cream shop
Courtesy
/
@supersecreticecream on Instagram

Zontini wasn’t sure how she got the nod, but she said it’s exciting to represent Bethlehem on the semifinalists list with other talented people.

“We’re in a small town, it’s not easy to have a rural ice cream shop,” Zontini said. “This nomination feels like a win to us.”

As for her “super secret” to ice cream? She said it comes down to enjoying the craft, and sourcing with local and family-owned farms. She also credits her amazing team, both front and back of house, who love crafting different flavors.

Bethlehem, where the ice cream shop is located, is a neighbor to Littleton, where community members have rallied in recent months against efforts to restrict public art and LGBTQ+ visibility. Both communities are known for their small but vibrant creative economies, and Zontini was part of a group of local business leaders who pushed back with “grave concern” about Littleton officials’ actions related to that controversy.

Zontini said both Littleton and Bethlehem have made a lot of strides to become more inclusive communities.

“What's happening is really sad, but we don't want our town, or Littleton especially, to be known for that,” she said. “I do think we're really progressive and things are moving really forward.”

Olivia joins us from WLVR/Lehigh Valley Public Media, where she covered the Easton area in eastern Pennsylvania. She has also reported for WUWM in Milwaukee and WBEZ in Chicago.