When you walk into our scoop shops this month, you’ll get to sample five awesome seasonal flavors created in collaboration with some of our favorite chefs—but what you won’t see is all the flavors that could have been. Developing the Guest Chef Collaboration Series flavors is one of the most involved processes of any seasonal menu throughout the year (find out more about the whole process here) and behind each of those final flavors served in our shop this month is a trail of literally hundreds of trials, different directions, and bold taste experiments that ended up being more of a learning process than a win over the six months that we worked with these West Coast culinary creatives.  Why so many different trials? “These flavors walk a very fine line, because we approach building each one like a chef builds a dish, so there are necessarily many more ingredients, flavors, and textures than your typical scoop,” shares Tyler. “With all of those flavors, each ingredient is in tension with the whole and every other ingredient. By the time you get the full scoop the flavors have married together, but if any one thing is out of balance during the flavor development process it can through the whole thing off. We need to do so many different variations because we find that a scoop of ice cream is unfinished without one strong ingredient (like the honey gastrique in Traci Des Jardins’s Duck Crackling with Cherry Preserves), but one iota too much and it can overwhelm the batch.” Here, we give a peek into our R&D notes to reveal a few fun flavor outtakes that didn’t make the final menu. Duck Crackling with Cherry Preserves with Chef Traci Des Jardins could have been:
  • Sake Lees with Salted Plum & Ginger
  • Hominy with Homemade Mole Swirl
  • Bellwether Farms Crescenza ice cream, toasted bread, artichoke, balsamic swirl
  • Freshly-Juiced Carrot, Tarragon & Chervil Sorbet
  • Or Mt Tam with Acme Bread & Sour Cherry Jam (and you may just see this one on a menu after all!)
Tokyo PB&J with Chef Gabe Rucker could have been:
  • Roasted & Caramelized Sunchokes with Candied Bitter Orange & Salted Almonds
  • White Rice & White Soy Sauce Custard with Shiro Miso Swirl
  • Roasted White Rice & White Soy Sauce Custard with Mirin Chutney
  • Strawberry & Japanese Whisky ice cream with white rice milk jam, yuzu miso butter brittle
  • Hazelnut Dark Chocolate ice cream with toasted rice milk jam
Ras el Hanout & Pickled Rose Petal Jam with Chef Renee Erickson could have been:
  • Preserved Lemon Brown Butter Vinaigrette with Roasted Carrots
  • Preserved Lemon Brown Butter Vinaigrette with Roasted Strawberries
  • Black Pepper Salted Custard with Pickled Rhubarb
  • Salsa Verde Sorbet (mint, capers, lemon, evo, salt, parsley, tarragon, & anchovies)
  • Green Coriander & Cucumber Frozen Yogurt
Roasted Beets & Humboldt Fog with Chef Brian Malarkey could have been:
  • Charred Carrot ice cream with Dukkah-Spiced Yogurt Swirl
  • Beet & Burrata ice cream with Walnut Pesto White Chocolate Fudge
  • Beet & Apples with Champagne Vinaigrette Gelato, Goat Cheese “Cheesecake Swirl” and Candied Walnuts
  • Local Seaweed, Avocado, Apple, White Soy, & Hiramasa Coconut Sorbet
Jeweled Brown Butter Rice Gelato with Chefs Sara Kramer & Sarah Hymanson could have been:
  • Kabocha Squash & Brown Butter Gelato, Grapefruit & Orange Marmalade, Sauteed Candied Peanuts with Aleppo Pepper & Fired Mustard Seed
  • Labneh Sorbet, Cocoa & Clove Beet Juice Clear Caramel, and Sweet-Pickled Prunes
  • oasted Rice and Fresh Bay Leaf Custard with Ver Jus & EVOO Candied Currants & Pepitas
Fun fact: even after we finalize the name, the ingredients, and the “final” recipe, we continue to tweak the flavor even more as a part of the scale-up process. These flavors are initially made and perfected in small batches in our R&D kitchen, after which they need to be scaled up into recipes that still work when made in those five-gallon tubs you’ll see in our scoop shops. Throughout this process, Kat Whitehead (Head of R&D at Salt & Straw) and the rest of her team stop by Tyler’s office a few times a day for last-minute taste tests, salt adjustments, and any other tweaks that need to be made before the work is done. It’s a labor of love, for sure, but when you’re interpreting the vision of some of the most talented chefs in the country, it’s worth it to get it just right.