Get the Scoop on an Ice Cream Shop with a CNU Flavor - Christopher Newport University


A man and a woman sit eating ice cream, both wearing dark grey hates that say Kindness is Free

Get the Scoop on an Ice Cream Shop with a CNU Flavor

Alum creates custom treats for Captains

Read time:

Students stand outside the Aux Delices truck waiting for their CNU-themed ice cream.

As a proud alumna, Catherine Michel is dishing out her love and support of Christopher Newport, one scoop at a time.

The co-founder of Aux Délices dessert shop in Newport News and a dedicated Captain for Life, Michel has created signature ice cream flavors that are not only delicious, but also pay tribute to her beloved alma mater. These special flavors - Smooth Sailing, The Hook, and All-Nighter - were crafted in collaboration with CNU students for Family Weekend. Via social media, Michel solicited flavor and ingredient suggestions from students and the wider community.

The crowdsourced ice cream flavors- not only satisfied taste buds, but also fostered a sense of community. Each flavor was made with ingredients highlighting its name. For example, The Hook incorporated cheesecake cream with locally-made bourbon, Smooth Sailing combined a creamy vanilla base with toffee and sea salt caramel, and the All Nighter, of course, included a trio of sugar and caffeine that included coffee ice cream, brownies and Oreos.

“It’s been so much fun,” Michel said.

Michel, ‘91 Communication Studies, and her husband, Steve Mueller, doled the sweet treats out from the store’s food truck, which they brought to campus as part of the event festivities. All three flavors sold out quickly.

Making ice cream to help amp up the vibe of family weekend was an act of love by Michel, who remains a huge supporter of the university that she credits with providing her with the foundation to help her to be successful as she shifted different career tracks. Not only does Michel serve up desserts, she also is a designer and has been a clinical therapist.

“I can talk to anyone anywhere about anything,” Michel said, applauding the public speaking prowess she developed while in communication classes. “I use my communication degree in everything and in every part of my life. It was well worth it.”

After graduating from Christopher Newport, Michel attended graduate school at Eastern Virginia Medical School. After practicing as a clinical therapist for many years, she changed directions. She started a business with her husband called Lead by Design, which in part designs government-owned hotels around the world.

Taking a detour from that, she decided to get back in touch with her European roots, choosing to dabble in what she loved: concocting masterful desserts.

Michel was raised in France and Germany and decided when it came time for college, she wanted to attend a school in the U.S. As she looked at options, she came across Christopher Newport. The size of the university and the location spoke to her. There was no doubt that it was the right place for her.

Her father, in the military, began working at Langley Air Force Base, and her mother, Patricia, taught French at St. Andrew’s Episcopal School until it closed in 2018.

Christopher Newport lived up to all of Michel’s expectations, providing her with skills that would fuel her many passions.

”It’s a small school with a big-school education,” she said. “You don’t get lost in the shuffle. CNU is about community.”

She said her classes expertly shaped how she communicates.

“They taught me how to communicate my thoughts and ideas in a way people can understand,” she said. “If you don’t speak well in public, you can’t sell yourself well.”

Opening Aux Délices, which means “to the delights,” provided an ideal platform for doing what brings the couple joy: getting to know people and feeding them amazing treats - including crepes and macaroons - in the process. They chose the location, in the shadow of her beloved CNU, and leaned heavily into her heritage for the perfect crepe recipe. Michel and Mueller, using their design prowess, wanted the dessert shop to be elegant yet comfortable and inviting.

“This made sense to me,” Michel said. “People want to be here. It’s just good all the time.”

The shop employs Christopher Newport students, and the couple is quick to jump in when there are events and activities on campus they can partake in as vendors or sponsors. Making the special CNU flavors was a perfect way to put a special twist - or scoop - on Family Weekend. It’s a relationship she hopes to continue to build.

“Everyone at CNU is wonderful,” Michel said. “It’s full of great humans who are supportive and have great energy. There is so much we can do together.”

Back to top
quick edit report a problem