Cincinnati Chef Liz Rogers Turns Classic Desserts and Personal Stories Into Wow-Worthy Ice Cream
With names like Slap Yo' Momma Banana Pudding, Thick as Thieves Pecan Pie, and Right as Rain Red Velvet, you just know that the flavors found in pints of Creamalicious Artisan Ice Cream have to be good. The brainchild of Cincinnati-based chef Liz Rogers, Creamalicious debuted in grocery stores in February.
When asked what inspired her to start Creamalicious, Rogers says, "I am a chef by trade, and I love to be creative and innovative. What really inspired me… ice cream is everybody's favorite dessert."
"My go-to dessert is an à la mode kind of thing," she adds. "I'm not the type of person who can eat a slice of cobbler or a slice of pie; I need to have ice cream on top with some whip cream… [that] takes it to a whole other level!"
Rogers, who has been a chef for about 20 years, says that in the culinary industry you have to keep reinventing yourself, pushing yourself, and thinking outside the box. That reinvention, pushing, and thinking process does not happen overnight, either: the first pint of Creamalicious was created eight years after Rogers first thought of the idea.
"When I first decided to do it, it took like six months to actually get something to develop," she says. "Even when I think back then, I thought I was ready, and I really wasn't. And then when I think back four years in, I really thought I was ready, and I really wasn't."
A few years into the project, Rogers "put a pause on everything" to focus on building a strong team to include finance, ice cream experts, and "a really, really good manufacturer that has all their certifications and that's been in the business for many, many years." She says that once she had her team in place, "that's when everything really started coming together."
To create her chef-inspired flavors, Rogers works with food scientists to create flavor profiles to her specifications and recipes so that she maintains ownership of her intellectual property.
Take, for example, Creamalicious' Porch Light Peach Cobbler, which Rogers says is different from peach ice cream. "In order to have a cobbler, you have to have the nutmeg, the vanilla, the cinnamon, and the crust in there, as well as the roasted peaches. You wouldn't have the spices in the peach ice cream; we take it to another level.
The same is true of Uncle Charles Brown Suga Bourbon Cake Ice Cream. "It's just really cool because we have all of our bourbon swirls in there. It's got a brown butter ice cream with that bourbon infused in there; it's really a sexy flavor profile," she shares.
Rogers took inspiration for her ice cream flavor profiles from her childhood, cooking with her mom and grandmother, and what the desserts meant to her as a little girl. Some of her inspiration has simply come from "having good memories of a good slice of sweet potato pie, or some banana pudding."
The names of some of Rogers' ice creams are inspired by people in her life, like Uncle Charles of Uncle Charles Brown Suga Bourbon Cake, Granma Gigi of Granma Gigi's Sweet Potato Pie, and Aunt Poonie of Aunt Poonie's Caramel Pound Cake, who was Rogers' godmother and "made her pound cake in a cast iron skillet."
The stories behind the names of some of Rogers' other ice creams go a bit deeper, and bring a storytelling aspect to Creamalicious, one of the only African American ice cream manufacturers in mass production in the world right now.
"We talk about the history of the desserts and what they meant," says Rogers. She explains that Red Velvet Cake was considered a celebration cake in the south when African Americans regained their freedom; the (coming soon) Peace & Quyte Cake is a white vanilla bean cake that is considered a peace offering cake in the African American community.
Sharing the story behind Porch Light Peach Cobbler, Rogers says, "If I was on a dark street and my car broke down, I'm going to go to the house with the porch light on because it's welcoming, it's safe, you're always welcome here.
"[The idea for the coming-soon] Apple Cobbler Ice Cream came from a guy talking about his grandmother and how she would make apple cobbler, and all the cousins would run around the table. They couldn't wait for dinner to be over so they could see who got the biggest piece," she says.
"We wanted to make sure these stories are about real things and real people," Rogers continues. "Before you even eat the ice cream, you learn about history and some great things [that] came out of the South. We talk about family and better times and love."
Creamalicious made its grocery store debut with the first seven flavors — Rogers has a total of 44 flavor profiles in mind — in chain stores like Jungle Jim, Meijer, and Schnucks stores in Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, and Wisconsin. Rogers expects her pints to be in freezers at Walmart stores this spring in Alabama, Georgia, Ohio, and Southern California. The pints are also available for shipment nationwide via the Creamalicious website.
When you do scoop into a pint of Creamalicious Artisan Ice Cream, as Rogers said, "You can have your cake and ice cream and eat it, too."