Have you ever heard of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams?  If you haven’t, you probably will be sometime soon.  According to U.S. News Travel, Jeni’s is America’s number one best ice cream.  Recently we were luckily to tour Jeni’s ice cream sandwich kitchen.  Jeni was a gracious Camp What-A-Wonder Campfire Cooking expert and Pete and Jake (ice cream chefs) were gracious hosts on a WONDERful tour.  We watched her staff making oatmeal cream ice cream sandwiches (my favorite) and hand piped orchid vanilla ice cream sandwiches (everyone else in my families favorite).  We were amazed at the care, attention and pure art work that went into making such yummy treats.

As we toured a surprisingly small kitchen area, we learned some very interesting things about Jeni, her team and her ice cream:

Betsy wondered where Jeni gets her inspiration from.  We learned:

  • Jeni gets her inspiration often from one ingredient and goes from there.  She compared getting her inspiration to a writer getting an idea and making a web and going from there.
  • She can always get inspiration from the library.  She said that if she goes into any library, picks out any book and reads almost any sentence, she could find inspiration for ice cream.

Betsy wondered how Jeni would describe herself.  We learned:

  • Jeni is a forward thinking person.  She doesn’t look back.  She commented that she expects to make mistakes and mess up.

Ben wondered what was the worst flavor she has ever made:

  • Her worst ice cream creation was smoked bananas.  She said it looked and tasted like turpentine.

Some interesting facts we learned along the way:

  • Jeni’s ice cream sandwich kitchen makes about 10,000 sandwiches a week.  Keep in mind these are all made by hand.  It was amazing watching her staff hand pipe the orchid vanilla ice cream sandwiches.
  • Jeni believes that the ice cream ambassadors (the scoopers in the shops) are the pin point in an inverted triangle, makes the connection with the customers and leads to everything else.
  • Jeni’s ice cream sandwiches are featured in this month’s O magazine.
  • Jeni buys her fairly traded vanilla beans from a small farm in Uganda.
  • Jeni won a James Beard Award for her cookbook, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home.

After our tour, we went to dinner while Jeni set up a special treat for us.  My children were fortunate to get to make ice cream in Jeni’s test kitchen with several other families participating during a virtual Camp What-A-Wonder Campfire Chat google+ hangout.  I can’t think of a more memorable or wonderful way to spend a Friday night!

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