Executive Chef Liz Rogers On Ice Cream Brand Creamalicious' First Year - Exclusive Interview

We are all screaming for ice cream — no matter the weather outside. If you're an avid dessert lover, then you probably already know about Creamalicious. The artisan southern brand combines your favorite pastries with ice cream for maximum deliciousness. Some of the most popular flavors include caramel pound cake, sweet potato pie, banana pudding, peach cobbler, pecan pie, and a brown sugar bourbon cake. If that information doesn't convince you to grab a pint, then maybe Liz Rogers, Executive chef and Creamalicious owner, will.

In an exclusive interview with Mashed, Rogers revealed what it has been like to be a successful business owner after only a year of launching. The chef described the hardships that come with being a minority and female owned brand, while maintaining a strong and strategic ice cream company. Rogers also talked about her family heritage in which most of the pastry recipes came from and hinted at tasty new projects that are coming within the next year. We don't know about you, but the "Slap Yo' Mama Banana Pudding" has officially caught our eye and landed in our carts.

How Creamalicious became so successful

I'm going to start off by talking about Creamalicious, which is your ice cream brand. What has it been like to have such quick success after launching Creamalicious just last year?

It has been extremely overwhelming. It's been in a good way, though. It's been a lot of twists and turns and an amazing experience working with people that I didn't think I'd get a chance to work with like many celebrities and really cool people that really support, so that's been one of the biggest highlights of owning Creamalicious.

Who is one memorable person that you've worked with so far?

I got an opportunity to be a private chef for Janet Jackson for two days. That was super cool because she was the sweetest. I got an opportunity to hang out with her team. She came to Cincinnati in July of this year. I gave her some ice cream and it was really cool to be able to work with her.

Have you had any hurdles you've had to jump over as a minority and female owned business?

Oh yeah, definitely. [It's] a matter of getting people to give you an opportunity when you haven't sold a pint. [With] a new brand, people are wanting proven concepts and [we need] people to believe in [us] without offering any past data on things. Our brand [has] been really strong. It's definitely a disruptor in the dessert category because we have a niche brand and we've been making our own little space of where we fit in. 

That's really the focus, not necessarily competing with anyone on the shelf because I don't. When I think about Creamalicious, I don't think about being better than anyone else or trying to sell more ice cream than someone else or being compared to [them]. I'm trying to be the best version of ourselves and authentic and staying who we are, true to ourselves.

Rogers digs deep into being a minority-led business owner and the inspiration behind Creamalicious

Going a little bit deeper into that. What does being a minority business owner really mean to you?

It's important to me. The playing field isn't always fair, so you have to be more strategic. You have to think outside the box. I like to think of myself as extremely innovative, very agile. I get an opportunity, as a minority woman owned business, to look at things differently because I'm a normal person that's probably pushing a grocery cart right next to someone and shopping like everyone else. I'm not this huge big machine. We're very small, but yet we have a very strong infrastructure and it's really been a really great experience. 

We've learned a lot of lessons, but that doesn't mean that we have to live in our lessons. I get to do things a little differently than most ice cream companies that started out years ago [when] there was no internet, there was no digital marketing, there was no way to reach consumers in order to become a household name. I do feel that we have an advantage now today for a lot more resources, but you have to work hard and make your own opportunities.

You mentioned that your business was a niche in the industry. What inspired you to incorporate baked pastries into ice cream?

I am an executive chef and restaurateur by trade. [In] eating ice cream, we're more than just a dessert. We're an experience. When I thought about ice cream, how do I eat ice cream? Everyone loves ice cream, but you run into a lot of people they're like, "I like cupcakes," or "I like pies," and different things like that. When it comes to dessert, it's the best part of anyone's after meal or before meal. 

There's always this [thought of], "Do I want to scoop ice cream?" You think about going to the park with your mom and dad, or sharing a cone, the ice cream man and different things like that, when we talk about ice cream. Maybe I want a slice of pie or a nice piece of cobbler [and] I wish that I could have this ice cream on there.

With Creamalicious, it's the best of both worlds. You don't have to choose and you can have it all. You can have your cakes and ice creams and eat them too. Where I grew up, my mom and my grandmother and my aunt Liz, they taught me how to cook. My mom was more of a savory cook. My aunt [and] my grandmother [were] more sweet. I had the opportunity to have something sweet and savory. 

Being single parents that they were and working and different things like that, that's how we spent our time together and bonded. It was through cooking and it was four generations of family-owned recipes that were passed down and generations of recipes that keep traditions going. That was one of the big things — to have everything in one pint and not be like everyone else. Creamalicious is the only 2-in-1 dessert ice cream pint on the market. We wanted to make sure that we stood out and we gave the consumer a different dessert offering.

The Creamalicious ice cream flavor Rogers is most proud of

I like how you said food is definitely associated with the memory. That's great that your entire company is an experience as well. Which ice cream flavor are you most proud of? I was looking through online and they all look so good.

If I had to say the one that I'm the most proud of, when we talk about Creamalicious and it being chef-inspired and culinary-inspired and Southern-inspired, all of those things, when you eat the sweet potato pie, it takes it to another level. It literally tastes like a piece of sweet potato pie. I find it fascinating because you do have the notes of cinnamon and nutmeg and the puree roasted sweet potatoes, but you have the crust, and it literally tastes exactly like it is. 

Out of all the desserts, it's not the easiest one to make. Everyone makes sweet potato pie differently. You have some people that eat pumpkin pie and different things like that, but from a culinary artistry perspective, that was the most intricate one to make and to get the taste exactly like the actual dessert. It was my mom's recipe.

Christmas time, you woke up and ... you come downstairs, [there are] like 20 sweet potato pies lined up on the table because she baked these amazing pies. I ended up getting that recipe and getting my pies to taste like hers. That was something that she left behind when she passed away last year. Those are some of the cool things. The banana pudding takes people off guard a little bit because most banana pudding ice cream is flavored artificially, and it's turned yellow, but we don't use any artificial flavoring or high-fructose corn syrup. Our banana pudding is actually banana pudding custard.

It's real banana pudding in that pint and that's what makes it so creamy. You're literally eating banana pudding, custard with the cookies in the pint.

Which is your highest selling flavor? Is it the banana pudding or the sweet potato?

Yes, it's the Slap Yo' Momma Banana Pudding. Closely behind that is Aunt Poonie's Caramel Pound Cake, which is very interesting because she was my godmother. The interesting story behind Aunt Poonie is she baked all of her pound cakes in a cast iron skillet. That cast iron skillet was given to her by her mom, and her mom's mom, and so on and so forth. When she passed away, it was passed down to her daughters. This cast iron skillet is about 120 years old.

It's in the family, so it has all this history and all the cornbread and pancakes and hot water bread and pound cakes. All these things were used in this cast-iron skillet, which was so cool because the skillet's seasoned. It keeps a lot of the flavor; that's what cast iron does. There's so many stories and history behind the skillet that this actual pound cake was baked in.

Creamalicious has a lot of new offerings on the way

The history definitely adds a layer to your business as a whole. Do you plan on expanding the ice cream portfolio at any point? Possibly new flavors?

Oh, yeah. Creamalicious has 52 flavors. Currently, right now you're the first that I'll tell this to, but in March I am releasing apple cobbler, cherry delight, and Baby Listen White Chocolate Blondie. Those three flavors will be added to the line. That's the legacy line of what you see now. 

The second piece is there is another line coming out called Cookies and Bliss. These are all cookies and cream. It's a cookies and cream ice cream pint concept. This concept is nothing but cookies, like Oreo cookies and cream, but I would never [use Oreo]. I don't do things that [are] already on the market, which is why you don't see chocolate, vanilla, or strawberry from Creamalicious. You'll see renditions of that because those are the three top sellers in the world, but ice cream and cookies are really cool.

We have that coming out in March next year. Another thing that we have coming out is Creamalicious Creamers. We extended into the creamer category [and] we're doing something really exclusive with a few of our retail partners. We launched two flavors. It's like, "Sip a scoop." It's like having a scoop of Creamalicious in your cup of coffee. It's very decadent and it's very indulgent.

The last thing that we're doing, and nobody even knows about this, is we do have some Creamalicious break-and-bake cookies. You'll be able to pick up the cookies in the refrigerated aisle and bake them. They're artisan gourmet cookies. We did do a novelty. We have ice cream sandwiches coming out in February.

You guys have a lot going on and it all sounds amazing.

Yeah, but it's all ice cream. It's really cool. They're very artisan. There's no pints or anything on the market like it. We're really excited and we were able to extend our portfolio and get everything done.

Rogers reveals the recipe for her favorite Southern comfort food

Will you ever open a brick-and-mortar store? You don't have one, right?

I do not, but I have restaurants. Creamalicious will open in several restaurant locations, like a Cheesecake Factory. Brick-and-mortars ... Creamalicious started from a pastry line. We have a line of pastries. We have cakes, cheesecakes, cobblers, pies, cookies. We have a line of desserts that got turned into ice creams. The ice creams were inspired by the desserts from my family recipes. 

That business model will sit in a few of the restaurants that are opening up. I'm opening a restaurant. I'm the executive chef of a restaurant that's opening in Memphis with NBA player Penny Hardaway. It's called the Nitty Gritty, so you'll see Creamalicious and then you'll see there's more coming in three other restaurants as well.

You mentioned the pastry line and it's all off of your Southern comfort foods from your family heritage. What is your ultimate favorite Southern comfort food?

Peach cobbler, definitely. I love peach cobbler. My mom made the best peach cobbler ever. It's very different; her crust was flaky, but then there was crust inside with the peaches and they were more like dumplings and they were really good. Those were some of the things that I loved a lot.

Could you possibly share the quick recipe for that?

She used roasted peaches, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, brown sugar, and then you make a buttery, flaky crust. It's layered in a really big pan and it's all baked down for about an hour and 30 minutes. It was really good. You use the juice and the butter and ... it bakes all down into the crust and you bake it until it's golden brown at 375 degrees.

Rogers talks food and what's in store for Creamalicious this winter

Because your brand mainly focuses on Southern foods, do you find that is where most of your customer base is?

Not at all, because my brand really is very culinary-inspired more for foodies. That's the crazy thing — everyone loves Southern-inspired food. Everyone of all genres, very diverse from all walks of life, people love ice cream. People like pecan pie. They like peach cobbler. They like banana pudding [and] red velvet cake. We all eat the same thing. If you go down south, if you go to South Carolina, you'll find it all over the world. 

People like good food. I don't think it has anything to do with where the food comes from. It's a matter of if someone's going to like it or not. The cool thing about Creamalicious is being an executive chef and being the face of the brand. I bring a different perspective because as a chef, I'm really hands on creating this, creating everything as it relates to the actual recipe and what actually makes it in the pint.

As we head into the winter, what is your plan to market the ice cream?

My plan is to get prepared to do a marketing campaign with my publicist and my marketing company to look at the trends. We are planning a big launch in three cities coming up and [will] take advantage of the different times that's coming up as it relates to the ice creams getting on the shelf.

I know you've only been open for about a year, but have you found a dip in sales this past year at all in general or in the winter time?

I have not. That's because there's been just such a buzz about it.

Who is the one chef you'd want to cook you dinner?

Emeril Lagasse. I love him. He is so dope.

What is your go to fast food order and which restaurant?

A grilled chicken sandwich with just lettuce and tomato only, no sauce, and red onion at Smashburger. With an order of sweet potato fries. They have the best grilled chicken. I don't know what it is, but they are so dope.

What is one ingredient you could never live without?

Sugar. I love sugar.

Check out Creamalicious' Instagram Page to keep up with its latest products, and head to Creamalicious' website to buy your own pints.

This interview has been edited for clarity.