“In the current time, we have seen an increased demand for 100% homemade products in our retail outlets and restaurants. Our customers are searching for the highest quality products, as their knowledge base has grown tremendously in recent years. With us being a luxury resort hotel, we have been producing quality ice creams, gelato and sorbets for our guests and visitors alike for years; however, during this last year, we have seen an increased demand for ice cream products that we were struggling to meet.
Our Carpigiani Lab100B has been a fantastic machine, but we had simply outgrown its capacity. With labor costs higher than ever, we searched for a solution to meet the demands of our customer base with higher efficiency. Knowing that we wanted to stay with Carpigiani, we narrowed our search to a Carpigiani LB302 RTX G based on the capacity output and a sleek design that fit within our kitchen space. With expert product training and installation, our machine was quickly operational and we immediately saw the improvements.
We have more than quadrupled our ice cream output with the Carpigiani LB302 RTX G, and drastically increased efficiency while also reducing labor costs. With the ability to expand our selection and continuing ability to offer our customers the highest quality products, we have watched our sales increase by more than 30%. We have reduced our labor costs by over 75%, which has promoted a more engaged and positive staff outlook. In the professional world of ice cream, there is nothing better than the efficiency of Carpigiani!”
Jordan Snider, Executive Pastry Chef at The Sanctuary at Kiawah Island Golf Resort
This Ames, Iowa-based university experienced so much success with its new gelato program that it decided to expand its offerings to multiple locations and formats
It doesn’t get much colder than January in Iowa, and logic would dictate frozen desserts like gelato may not be popular with Iowa State University (ISU) students at the start of the second semester. Yet, when the school’s new gelato program rolled out during one of the state’s record-breakingly cold winters, the popularity of the dessert was evident from the get-go.
Located in the central Iowa town of Ames, ISU’s campus of 35,000 students includes, on average, 11,000 meal plan holders. Its 26 foodservice locations include dining centers, fast-casual spots, retail cafes, convenience stores, a food court, a coffee shop, vending and catering operations, and a food truck. Gelato was not a part of the university’s menu until its introduction at the opening of the renovated Roasterie Café in January 2019.
“Gelato is a fantastic product that our students don’t get to experience a lot in Iowa,” says Jamie Lenz, Assistant Director of ISU Dining. “We are always wanting to be on the cutting edge, bringing our students new and innovative food options to experience unique flavors they may never have thought to order. This also gives our staff the ability to be creative in their work.” Despite launching the gelato program in cooler weather, it was hot immediately and stayed that way. “We sold over 29,000 scoops of gelato or 180 scoops a day between January 14 and May 10,” says Chad Bauman, Communications Specialist for ISU’s residence halls and dining department.
April 2019 was the busiest month for gelato at ISU, with close to 5,000 scoops sold, and its busiest day was April 8 with 224 scoops sold, according to Emory Telios, assistant manager of ISU Dining’s creamery.
The cafe features eight gelato flavors on a daily basis, which includes five standards — vanilla, chocolate, coffee, raspberry, and salted caramel. Three new recipes debut each month. “The most popular flavor by far is the salted caramel, but the goat cheese and cherry, banana cream pie, earl grey sorbet, and pomegranate also were hot sellers [as LTO flavors],” Bauman adds. Texture represents a key attribute of ISU’s gelato, serving as an indicator of quality. “It’s based on being creamier, less icy, and at the right texture and consistency that we’re looking for,” says Telios.
Exploring Its Options
Prior to establishing its gelato program, ISU’s dining department looked at several equipment options. While researching other operations, the ISU dining team found the majority of operators they saw were utilizing equipment from Carpigiani. “As we were determining what equipment to purchase, we visited Carpigiani’s [training center in Vernon Hills, Ill.] so we could see firsthand how the equipment worked as well as the ease of operating and cleaning and flexibility of using it,” says Lenz. “In addition, we had the opportunity to take advantage of Carpigiani’s knowledgeable gelato chef, Baron Gottsacker, who has given us an extreme advantage in our startup process.”
“For us to have a contact available like Chef Baron to help us out with recipes, troubleshooting, etc., it has made it easy for us to put a successful program together.” Jamie Lenz, Assistant Director of ISU Dining
Carpigiani machines are the heart of Iowa State’s gelato program.
The university chose Carpigiani’s Pastomaster 120 to make the gelato base in-house, along with the LB-502 RTX Tru 2 Batch Freezer, READY 802, Mister Art Plus, Pasto Chef and blast freezers.
“We use both the batch freezer and pasteurizer daily, putting milk, cream and sugar in the pasteurizer for 12 hours before using the finished base, and we use the freezer to produce gelato and sorbets,” says Emory Julios, ISU’s Assistant Creamery Manager. “The equipment is easy to clean and operate, and the pasteurizer has a digital readout, so it’s easy for employees to know if it’s heating, cooling or aging and for how long. Also, the batch freezer runs pretty quickly.”
The equipment package ISU chose is not only easy to use but can also produce large quantities of gelato in a very short time, says Gottsacker, who serves as a chef/instructor for Carpigiani. “ISU is very food-oriented, with chefs cooking almost everything from scratch,” he says. “After they contacted us, we brought them into our Vernon Hills, Ill., offices and made a couple of gelato batches to test the soft-serve machines.”
In October 2018, Gottsacker conducted a small training session on the equipment, and just three months later, ISU’s team was ready to go. “We did two days of training on campus and sent Julios to our Gelato University program,” says Gottsacker. “The learning curve is not steep at all.”
A Seamless Grand Opening
As a result of this focus on training, ISU’s program launched without a hitch. “They made sure to give us all the time we needed to work with the equipment and not just rush us through a demo,” says Lenz.
“We received top-notch training by their chef and his entire attention for as long as we wanted it. And we were able to test the equipment out ourselves, making sure we were comfortable with it, and had all questions answered by the chef before we left.”
When Kelly Chu first created Cirsea ice cream at her Charleston, S.C., restaurant Red Orchids back in 2008, she had no inkling it would evolve into one of the fastest-growing companies in the Southeast.
The name carries a double meaning. In the South, a “cirsea” is often regarded as a treat that one per-son gives to another. To Chu, the name represents one of her bedrock philosophies: circling the sea to bring together unique concepts from around the world. Cirsea is now a premium small-batch ice cream brand that is produced without any artificial coloring, artificial flavoring, or preservatives.
“It is a borderline gelato, with an overrun percentage of about 45 percent,” says Chu. “This makes it thicker and richer than typical ice cream.”
The line’s flavor portfolio is unique and represents some of the finest ingredients produced both locally and around the world. “I can usually visualize the flavor combinations in my head, and I know what I am looking for before I make it,” she says. There are a total of 13 varieties of Cirsea ice cream, including Black Sesame, Bourbon Caramel, Lavender, Strawberry Goat Cheese, and Green Tea.
When it was offered only at Chu’s restaurant, Cirsea ice cream became so popular, customers began asking for a packaged version to take home. And it was soon apparent that, based on increasing demand, the restaurant’s ice cream production capabilities were sorely lacking. “Cirsea was in such high demand, I couldn’t keep up,” says Chu. She found a 2,800-square-foot factory space to ramp up production but needed to find equipment that could produce 10 gallons of ice cream in 10 minutes.
While attending Pennsylvania State University’s Ice Cream Short Course program, Chu met John McCabe, Eastern Regional Area Manager at Carpigiani North America, a Winston- Salem, N.C.-based equipment manufacturer. “I met Kelly at Penn State, and we proposed some equipment for her commissary. I invited Kelly and her team to Winston-Salem to experiment with our batch freezers and other machines for the day,” says McCabe.
Chu did her research on the quality of ice cream Carpigiani machines could produce and then got in touch with McCabe to find out more. “We went to Carpigiani’s showroom, where John held a demo and did a tasting for me, which was helpful,” says Chu. “We decided to go with the equipment due to the quality and texture it pro- duces, which was just what we were looking for.” Chu chose Carpigiani’s LB 1002G RTX batch freezer, its largest. The unit incorporates the latest in state-of-the-art batch freezer technology, offering a greater range of batch sizes with precision control of product quality. It produces consistent results for a wide range of frozen products. The unit’s patented Hard-O-Dynamic system produces a consistent finished product, regardless of the batch size, while offering greater stability and storage.
Cirsea is also utilizing Carpigiani’s Pastomaster PK-60 RTX Hot Treatment Mixer. This new-generation unit provides a high level of quality and flexibility. It processes virtually any kind of mix utilizing a refrigerated extraction spigot for maximum hygiene and an exchange pump for low homogenization. This model features 16 exclusive programs, making it ideal for Cirsea’s gourmet flavors. It is capable of mixing up to 60 liters or 16 gallons of mix per cycle. Cirsea’s installation didn’t go as smoothly as hoped due to limitations with the facility’s utility output. Chu didn’t realize that her facility had only single-phase electrical capabilities, and she had chosen three-phase machines.
“John and Carpigiani were very accommodating and helped me make adjustments to replace units and make sure the others would work,” says Chu. “They went above and beyond getting us up to speed, and the issue didn’t impact my output at all.”
Chu was especially impressed with how easy the units are to clean as both can be easily disassembled and pulled apart for sanitizing. She also appreciates the simple operation, which requires just a push of a button. “The Carpigiani machines were just what we were looking for — equipment that provides higher quality, denser results with a lower overrun,” says Chu. “Other equipment we looked at had higher overruns and put more air in the product, so the texture wasn’t what we were looking for.”
The conversion was such a success that last January, Chu was able to start selling Cirsea ice cream to other restaurants as well as to coffee shops and specialty stores. Chu worked with Charleston’s Holy City Brewing to come up with an ice cream flavor featuring the brewery’s Pluff Mud Porter. “It has been very well received by the locals, and they carry many Cirsea ice creams in their brewery now,” she says.
The Restoration Hotel, a luxury boutique hotel in Charleston, is also selling Cirsea ice cream. During a visit to the hotel’s Watch restaurant, “I absolutely loved the vibe of the restaurant and the creativity of the menu,” says Chu. “I immediately scheduled a tasting with Chef Chad Anderson and Food and Beverage Director Rob DeLeo.” Chu is now discussing developing an exclusive flavor for the hotel. And an even wider audience will get to taste Cirsea ice cream as it will soon be available in local supermarkets.
Chu’s own culinary empire has expanded as well as she and her husband opened a second restaurant, the Aya Cookhouse, in Mount Pleasant, S.C., in 2014. “We wanted to bring traditional Asian dishes and add our interpretations to them,” she said. “We have had a lot of fun experimenting with classic dishes, and they have been very popular.”
Even though Cirsea ice cream is currently only available in the Charleston area, “We are working hard for future expansion,” Chu says. “We are considering adding two more machines since production has picked up substantially.” She adds, “We saw Carpigiani’s FantaStick novelty machines at a Chicago gelato competition and may incorporate those to expand our lines with popsicles or coated ice cream on a stick due to the success we’ve had with our current units.”
“We decided to go with the equipment due to the quality and texture it produces, which was just what we were looking for.”
Carpigiani’s FantaStick machine is an easy way to make gelato or sorbet pops. After the gelato mix is prepared in the MasterStick soft-serve freezer, pop molds are filled in an ergonomic, vertical position. In about 30 minutes of blast freezing in the FantaStick blast freezer set the bars, which can then be coated with chocolate or other flavored coatings and rolled in toppings. “Kelly and her team, including Production Manager Matt Cook and her husband Tony, have been great to work with because they have a real desire to make high-quality frozen desserts featuring outstanding flavors,” says McCabe. “I am proud to work with a group that is enthusiastic and has an excellent reputation in the Charleston market.”
In terms of advice for others looking for batch freezers and mix treatment machines, Chu says it’s important to facilitate a test run with the product before making a purchase. “Every machine is different in terms of the way it runs, and the cylinder speed impacts the final product,” says Chu. “By conducting a test run, the operator can ensure what the end result will be.”
Jeff Martin first rose to prominence as one of the competitors on the TV series “Cupcake Wars.” Founded in 2009, his wildly popular Smallcakes bakery chain bakes and frosts 18 varieties of signature cupcakes daily, as well as special-edition seasonal treats. Now, with 120 locations around the U.S. and two in the United Arab Emirates, he’s expanded the offerings at his “neighborhood bakery” concept beyond cupcakes to brownies, cookies, and his latest addition, ice cream — with the help of Carpigiani equipment.
Smallcakes is known for making exciting flavors of baked goods, and that same adventurousness now extends to its ice cream selections. “We take what we’re known for — our great cupcakes — and incorporate them into our ice cream,” Martin says. “We just don’t do boring ice cream. We make cupcake-infused ice cream. We do red velvet ice cream and vanilla bean ice cream.”
“We tested out a few other machines, and the Carpigiani really produced the consistency I envisioned.” —Jeff Martin
Martin is a perfectionist when it comes to the texture of his ice cream. “I’m not a huge gelato fan,” he says, “and I’m not a huge fan of the old-school, rock-hard ice cream. What we’re producing is right in the middle, and the machine has a lot to do with that. We tested out a few other machines, and the Carpigiani really produced the consistency I envisioned.” Martin currently has 12 Carpigiani LB100 batch freezers in his Smallcakes stores, with plans for another 20 to be installed soon.
Martin has high marks for the Carpigiani sales and service team. “These machines are very easy to install, very easy to work with. When we’ve had to call for service or get questions answered, it’s been very easy. They don’t make you feel like an idiot when you ask a question. I work through Kami Poppen a lot and she picks up the phone on weekends, too,” he says, adding that Carpigiani has been “very easy and very good to work with.”
Carpigiani Director of Sales Kami Poppen thinks Martin has found the formula for ice cream success with Smallcakes. “Smallcakes is the kind of customer you love to work with,” she says. “They are a fun business that’s open to trying new things that expand their menu. But they stay focused on their core theme of cupcakes. Jeff is always thinking about what he can do next to continually improve Smallcakes and bring it to the next level for his customers. The addition of ice cream bars in his new flagship location is proof that Smallcakeswill continues to be a top cupcake chain by offering a wide variety of choices while keeping it fun and creative by allowing customers to customize their own ice cream bar. And working with a rep like Kevin Herndon of B&J/Peerless really makes it a team effort.”
In his own words, Martin is “super-excited” about his next Carpigiani machine: the Fantasticks 4U, installed in November 2015 in his newest concept, Decadent Coffee and Desserts, located in an upscale neighborhood of Overland Park, Kan. With more of a bistro feel, Decadent is aimed at the traditional “mom-and-kid” crowd during the day and an adult clientele at night. “I’m like a little kid at Christmas,” he exclaims. “It’s a machine that you can do so many different things with. I’m going to do everything I possibly can do with it. Initially, we want to do custom ice cream bars. But my mind is thinking, ‘What can I do with this? And I want to do it all.”