BEFORE the name Minghella was associated with Hollywood movies and Oscars, it was famous for something rather tastier – ice cream.

British film director Anthony Minghella, the man behind such movies as Cold Mountain, The Talented Mr Ripley and The English Patient, for which he won an Oscar, came from a family not of film makers but of ice cream makers.

His parents, Edward and Gloria, opened their ice cream business Minghella Ice Cream 60 years ago this October in modest premises in Ryde on the Isle of Wight.

“I wanted to sell something I could be proud of, something I could have a passion for,” says Edward.

Since then, the business has seen some significant changes.

What started out as a small fleet of vans selling ice cream has grown in to an empire, turning thousands of tonnes of milk and cream into ice cream every week. And Minghella is not only the name most strongly associated with ice cream on the Island but is also well known far beyond with Fortnum and Mason and Harrods among its stockists.

But some things have remained the same, including Edward’s original recipe. Edward was always very interested in nutrition, refusing to use artificial ingredients before this was generally recognised as a concern and using only fresh Isle of Wight milk and cream.

Today the ice cream is still only made from these fresh, local ingredients – not from milk powder and water like some ice creams.

And Gioia Minghella, Edward and Gloria’s daughter and the company’s managing director, is as committed to using local ingredients to produce high quality ice cream as ever.

“We source high quality local ingredients where we can – lavender, cherries, even plums from my own orchard,” she says.

Living and working on the Isle of Wight, it is important to Gioia that the company supports other Island businesses wherever possible. Minghella Ice Cream also supports a number of local schools and charities.

“We are very wedded to the Island,” says Gioia. “There have been times when it might have made economic sense to move the business elsewhere but it wouldn’t have made emotional sense. Also, the quality of local milk and cream is so high that it wouldn’t make sense to go anywhere else.”

When Edward started out, ice cream tended to only come in one flavour in the UK – vanilla – but he loved to experiment, creating recipes with coffee, fruit, nuts and liqueurs.

Today its range includes such tempting offerings as ‘blackcurrants and cream’, ‘fudge and almonds’ and ‘oriental ginger with honey’ as well as sorbets including ‘green apple’, ‘lemongrass’ and ‘mojito’.

Minghella Ice Cream has collected some 66 Great Taste Awards from the Guild of Fine Food.

Gioia says the company’s policy of only using fresh milk and cream, rather than powdered milk mixed with water, lets the taste of the flavours shine.

She adds that with people being increasingly concerned with where their food comes from there has been even more interest in their produce.

As well as reducing food miles by always looking for local sources for ingredients,|the company has been working to be more environmentally friendly, increasing recycling and changing its packaging so there is less waste.

“People are definitely more interested in the provenance of the food these days. For us, we’re doing what we’ve always done: using good quality local ingredients. That’s always been our cornerstone, even when it was probably quite unfashionable!”