Santa Monica's Sweet Crush Founder To Serve Up Dessert At Oscars Governors Ball

Monday, 18 Feb 2013, 9:03:00 AM

Brenton Garen

Sweet Crush founder Yael Lustmann will serve up Asian-inspired shaved ice desserts at the Governors Ball this Sunday, Feb. 24.
Photo by Brenton Garen
Sweet Crush founder Yael Lustmann will serve up Asian-inspired shaved ice desserts at the Governors Ball this Sunday, Feb. 24.

Among Santa Monica resident Yael Lustmann’s friends, she

has become known as the “Ice Queen.” Next weekend, she will use her sweet tooth

creating powers to serve up delicious desserts to Hollywood’s elite at the 2013

Governors Ball, the Academy’s official post-Oscar celebration.

As founder of Sweet Crush at 11753 San Vicente Boulevard

in Brentwood that opened late last summer, the mother of three daughters has

been working to create two special desserts for the A-list event.

Sweet Crush is an inventive new take on Asian-inspired

shaved ice infused with flavors like pomegranate, strawberry lemonade, and pink

guava and topped with fresh fruits, candy, and drizzles including chocolate,

caramel, mango and strawberry to name a few.

Lustmann said her three daughters, aged 4, 6, and 8,

loved shaved ice so much that she began to research the possibility of starting

her own shaved ice shop.

During her research, she found Hawaiian shaved ice with

syrup was the most common, but wondered why nobody had created Asian-inspired

shaved ice desserts.

After coming up with a business model and buying ice

shaving machines, sourcing fruit vendors, and signing a lease on the San

Vicente location, she opened nine months after the idea was born.

She said the creations are healthy, low calorie

alternative to frozen desserts that contain only natural ingredients with no

artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives.

There are the options of milk-based and vegan ice


Among the most popular milk-based flavors are chocolate,

espresso, coconut, and peanut butter. On the vegan menu, strawberry lemonade,

passion fruit, raspberry, and lycee are all crowd pleasers.

“People that come in and try it for the first time love

it,” Lustmann said. “They say when they have frozen yogurt most of the flavors

taste the same. They say that when they come here, whatever you get is actually

what you taste. They can tell you, without me telling them, what the flavor


On Nov. 17, Lustmann participated in the Just Desserts

Festival at The Art Institute of California in Santa Monica, which led to her

upcoming involvement at the Governors Ball.

She met Wolfgang Puck’s executive pastry chef who worked

at Spago, who fell in love with the shaved ice desserts.

Lustmann was invited to take part in an event at Spago

late last year. Soon after that event, Wolfgang Puck invited her to create

desserts at the dessert table with him at the Governors Ball.

One of the desserts she will create will be a chocolate

soufflé with a chocolate disc and fresco shaved ice chocolate on top. The vegan

option she will serve will be frozen grapes with blood orange shaved ice on it.

She said she was excited for the opportunity, but a

little anxious at the same time.

“Here at the shop we shave into large cups and we do the

samples too,” she said. “But at the Oscars, the chocolate disc is smaller than

the size of your palm and it can’t get messy. It’s the Oscars. Nobody wants to

get blood orange on their beautiful dresses. It could get stressful because it

has to fit on the disc and not fall.”

Back at the store, Sweet Crush is a winter wonderland

with a white wall of laser-perforated snowflakes, back-lit by a kaleidoscope of

changing colors – created by design company 64 North.

Lustmann said she has Ikea to thank for the design idea.

“I wanted to do walls with perforations and the changing

colored lights behind being the only design elements,” she said. “The whole

changing lights idea came about when I moved to LA from New York. When I went

to Ikea, like everyone does, I bought this light bulb that changes color. When

you pass by my house at night, you see my kids’ room looking like a disco

because it’s purple, pink, blue – and that’s their night-light. I then set out

to create store with the changing lights idea. It’s controlled by a computer,

so I can set any sequence or color I like.”

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