The Full Scoop
SWEET BEGINNINGS 1980s – 90s
Once upon a Time in Ecuador
Thanks to the kindness of a family friend, I found myself in Ecuador in the early 80s. Though I was happy and fulfilled during my Ecuadorian escapade, something was missing. This was long before Ecuador was the popular retirement and tourist spot that it is now. One night, I leapt out of bed and announced, “ice cream!” That was it. I missed ice cream. There were NO ice cream shops in the town where I lived (I know – hard to believe!) More specifically, I craved the sweet memories of weekly visits to the local scoop shop with my dad, and wanted Ecuadoreans to experience the pleasure of family outings to get ice cream. I reached out to friends who owned a nearby bakery and asked if I could use a small corner of their kitchen for my pint-sized business. Within a couple of weeks, I was selling more ice cream than they were baked goods. In 1982, I opened my very first ice cream shop with great fanfare and lines of people wrapped around the corner anticipating our frozen treats!
Cranking it out
At that time, all I knew was hand-cranked machines—so I bought one in Los Angeles while visiting my parents. It went kaput in a matter of weeks, so I knew that a real batch freezer was in my near future. In the meantime, I stumbled upon a book about ice cream making, and felt compelled to learn the scientific side of things. I took the book back to Ecuador, and spent the next three months studying its every page. Based on scientific formulations, I taught myself the principles of industrial ice cream making and eventually—formulated a mix based on the components of ice cream, not the ingredients. At that time, I had no idea how valuable this knowledge and experience would eventually become.
This scientific approach inspired the way I develop mixes for Mami’s today, and has enabled me to offer the most balanced products to my customers. To create my unique mix back then, I turned to what was available—like the dairy nearby who had cream of the exact fat level I needed. I even received the generous job offer of production manager from an ice cream plant—though I refused as I am an entrepreneur at heart.
For my flavors, I turned to local specialties to spice things up. Though, that didn’t always work as planned…
A Serendipitously Silly Mistake
Peanuts were readily available in Ecuador, so they were the perfect partner to toast, grind, and marry with ice cream. One day, I noticed something remarkably different about the batch of peanut ice cream my employee had just churned. Though there appeared to be chocolate chips scattered throughout, the ice cream was, in fact, loaded with burnt nuts. I cringed and closed my eyes for a taste. It was the most magnificent mistake we could have possibly made. From then on, we purposely over-cooked the peanuts. Peanut, not peanut butter, became our best-selling flavor. Burnt peanut ice cream—who would’ve thought!
This event taught me to open my mind and embrace experimentation and mistakes as you never know where it might lead. From that moment forward, I was on the lookout for unexpected ways to bring exceptionally unique flavors to my customers.
THE INSIDE SCOOP 2000s
Getting my Gelato on
After many years of more travel, a career in IT, and an ongoing love affair with frozen sweets, my husband and I eventually opened a restaurant in Indiana. It was Christmas of 2013, and I was driving—the activity where I do my best pondering—back from visiting family in New Jersey. I was on the Pennsylvania Turnpike and suddenly, I was struck (not by an aggressive driver—by an idea). “Gelato! That’s what our restaurant needed!” I exclaimed. Although it had been years since I had made ice cream, I was able to use my previous knowledge developing ice cream mixes to develop a gelato formula. To make sure I was on the right track, I searched for a gelato expert and found one in Europe. Though I could have corresponded with my gelato master via email, I decided to travel to Europe to meet in person. Sound strange? Not for me.
I spent the next several months developing gelato recipes (including a vegan version). May 1st, we launched my gelato in the restaurant. I learned quickly that it was tremendously labor-intensive and too complicated a process to train someone in. I had a vision of the rest of my life—and I was making gelato. Forever. I took it upon myself to create another solution where I wasn’t cooped up in a kitchen every hour of the day. I converted my dairy recipe into a powder and eventually, went through the same process for the vegan ice cream. By the end of the year, our powder mixes were exclusively being used at the restaurant.
The following spring, we attended our first trade show and featured finished frozen gelato pans in dairy and non-dairy form. It was there where we realized that people had a predominant interest in the latter. We had unknowingly caught the vegan wave as it was just gathering force. By carefully listening to our customers and thoroughly researching dairy-free and vegan trends, we decided to exclusively manufacture vegan mixes. It may have been a risk, and we certainly encountered many nay-sayers along the way, but we embraced our new niche, and not long after—sold our first big order of Froconut®. In fact, I soon found myself following a plant-based diet and embracing the vegan philosophy of “causing no harm” in order to eat.
Tasting my way Through the World
While the internet makes it quite simple to order ingredients online or buy products through distributors, going straight to the source feeds into who I am and what I love. I choose to journey long and far so that I can get the quality I want, have the adventure, and meet farmers and processors face-to-face. There’s nothing like seeing coconuts harvested and processed right in front of my very eyes. I learn so much, and gain full confidence that our ingredients are top-quality! I will settle for nothing less than bringing the world’s best ingredients to my customers—and to my customers’ customers. I believe that running a business isn’t just about making money. It’s about the experience and the people I develop meaningful relationships and friendships with along the way.
Travel isn’t for everyone—but to me, going outside of my comfort zone, exploring new lands, and reveling in local foods is my utopia. I’ve always thought of the world as one big country. I’m not afraid of borders or passports, so for me—trotting along from Mexico to Hawaii to South America to Asia is not just part of my business, it’s my life.
It’s also my trade secret. No geographic coordinates for you.
OUR PROMISE 2020
Where YOU come in
We know our customers on a first-name basis. We know how hard you work to make your business work. We’re familiar with all the trials and tribulations you have faced to open (and keep) your business open. We understand because we also have a small, family-run mom-and-pop shop. Our goal is to help you stay in your already-successful, thriving business and not lose market share as more and more customers search for dairy-free options. We hear directly from YOUR customers and understand what they want. Even if you have the best ice cream in your area, if you’re not offering a plant-based option—you may lose out to your competitor next door who does. I’m here to help you with a valuable solution and give you the opportunity to make the transition without a struggle. Just like you, we’ve invested all of our time, money, and nest eggs. Leave it to us to give you relief, excitement, and a helping hand to expand your customer reach.
Become part of our story We’re here for you. It’s simply who we are.