Q&A: Confessions of an ice-cream maker

Ice-cream maker and owner of Nom Nom, in Clyde, Debbie Paton. Photo: Pam Jones
Ice-cream maker and owner of Nom Nom, in Clyde, Debbie Paton. Photo: Pam Jones
Nom Nom owner and  Earnscleugh artist Debbie Paton  whips up creamy confections in  her Clyde shop but says it is  another sweet treat that is her guiltiest.

Why do you do what you do?

That's a big question! It's like asking a goldfish ''Why do you swim?'' I do what I do because I believe I (or anyone, for that matter) can do almost anything I put my mind to. I'm not sure I have delved deep enough yet to know my limitations. Whether the results of my efforts are any good is another thing entirely. But you don't know what you are capable of unless you give things a go.

I love to see the expressions on people's faces when they look at the things I have created - my art - and when they touch and feel my sculptures, or when they try my ice cream for the very first time. The pleasure I get from having someone else enjoy what I do is something money just can't buy.

My shop, Nom Nom, is my latest creation that has grown arms and legs like a living thing, and I have two amazing ladies working for me who make the most delicious scrummy things - Stacey Albert and Justyce Mihaka.

It's all been a bit of trial and error. I have woken up in the middle of the night many times in a cold sweat chastising myself about even dreaming I could pull this all together.

Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?

I don't really think I would have anyone foodie famous to one of my dinner parties - I am a bit too shy for that; it would make me too on edge. My dream dinner party - family, friends, laughs, love, children, delicious food, delicious wine. Starting early and finishing late and just enjoying everyone's company. Nothing planned - impromptu is good. Bring a plate. There's grog in the fridge.

What is your earliest memory?

Earliest memories are kind of all jumbled together and it's hard to pull just one out of the hat. We lived on Stewart Island for a while when I was very young, must have been the summer of '66-'67. We were wild children back then, out the door quick as a wink first sign of light outside, and never home except when we were hungry, making firm friends with the island's children, not realising we would never see each other again.

I went back to the island a few years ago (for a work do) for the first time since we left it, and it wasn't how I remembered it at all. Things change. Sometimes it's best to leave the past behind and not go back.

Another memory I have, and this is a little embarrassing, is an older me living in Gore, and suddenly realising how far away from the rest of the world we were (living in New Zealand), and wishing we lived in America in Utah where Donny Osmond lived. Paper Roses was my most favourite song when I was 7. I used to sing it all the time - it must have been very painful to listen to - my poor mother and siblings!

What did you want to be when you were growing up?

I wanted to be a nurse. I actually applied to the Oamaru Nursing School when I was 15, but wore so much perfume at the time I'm sure they must have thought 'What on Earth?' The interview didn't go well. And then I discovered my propensity to faint at the sight of blood - so it's all worked out as it should have really.

What is your most embarrassing moment?

It's funny - embarrassing moments are so quickly forgotten. I'm sure there have been many, but I can't remember them. The silly things we do ...

Property aside, what's the most extravagant thing you've bought?

My Harley-Davidson motorcycle.

Who would play you in the film of your life?

Hmmm ... that's a hard one ...

What is your guiltiest pleasure?

Eating one of Justyce's melting moments when everyone else has gone to bed.

What would be your dream job?

I'm doing it! All three of them ...

What single thing would improve the quality of your life?

Cloning me three times.

What keeps you awake at night?

Nom Nom.

What song would you like played at your funeral?

[Pink Floyd's] Wish You Were Here, quickly followed by Shine On You Crazy Diamond. In fact, the whole album! Loudly and with lots of bubbles for everyone. No tears allowed.

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