I’m going to tell another story today. It’s an old one, but even if we’re pals, you likely haven’t heard it yet.
I was invited to be on the Rachael Ray show. This was all the way back in 2011. When I got the call, they had asked if MilkMade could make a flavor special for Rachael. How about EVOO, I suggested. (We all know it’s her favorite, right? She even has her own brand of the stuff.) Perfect.
So we went about crafting the perfect EVOO recipe - finding the best olive oil from as local as possible of a source, the Filling Station in Chelsea Market. It was a California Arbequina EVOO, for what it’s worth to you. We added a swirl of our Mast Brothers chocolate sauce, and it was, indeed, perfect.
Until it wasn’t anymore.
At the time we were renting a kitchen out in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. It was about 6pm the night before my scheduled on-air appearance and I was just finishing the last batch of ‘scream. I was working alone, save for my mom who had planned a visit from California to cheer me on. (She’s the best.)
So here’s how it went. One minute I’m looking at allllmost ready, allllmost perfect ice cream being churned in the machine. And the next, I’m looking at butter. My ice cream overchurned. Into butter. Albeit delicious sweet EVOO butter. But butter, still.
This happens to ice cream at times, see. If you overchurn it, the butterfat of the cream and milk separates and produces a buttery consistency. And higher fat ice creams (like, say, an olive oil flavor) are especially prone to this. (There’s a tremendous amount of chemistry behind ice cream making, just so you know).
Okay so here’s where it gets really fun. Again, ya know, don’t cry over spilled milk, or churned butter or whatever; there’s not enough time for that! With 20 hours to go before said scheduled on-air, live-audience appearance on the RaRay Show, I somehow managed to dash out to Mast Brothers in Williamsburg to get more chocolate before they closed, to Chelsea Market for more EVOO, to Whole Foods to snag more milk from Ronnybrook (our dairy supplier), and then back to the kitchen to start over again. Oh, and all of this was in the pouring rain (of course), in which my mother (who was accompanying me every step of the way because, remember, she’s the best) slipped while carrying one of the milks.
Hi mom, yep, this is my life.
Back at the kitchen, this time I watched every single rotation of that mixing blade and yanked the ice cream exactly on time. EVOO ice cream was made, chocolate was swirled, and the pints were packed and set to freeze. We made it to the studio just in time for those three glorious minutes of airtime and that emphatic “Mmmmm” from Rachael on air.
So why tell this now? Well I was reminded of it today because I had agreed to share the recipe and tell the story for my friend Bryce’s new project, Kitchen Letters, a subscription of recipes and the stories behind them from great chefs. Kitchen Letters launched today on food52, and so did this story.
And why not tell it before? I guess because for quite a while, these sorts of misdaventures were embarrassing. I was afraid that you’d figure out that I may not know what I’m doing. That sometimes I overchurn my ice cream. That I run around the city foraging for ingredients (and then sometimes re-foraging for those same ingredients). That we set up a makeshift (I mean makeshift) photo studio in our production facility to shoot the ice cream glamour shots that are shown to our 1.5 million followers on tumblr. That I spill orange custard all over the place and thank goodness my boyfriend knows how to mop an ice cream shop. (Sidenote: appropriate timing giving his post, eh?)
There was that risk of being vulnerable, of exposing a behind the scenes account, of putting it all out there. Been thinking a bit about this after I stumbled upon this great TED Talk about vulnerability, which I recommend watching (after you watch the Rachael Ray clip, of course!). I’ll likely write more on it later, but for now…
Hi everyone, yep, this is my life.