Behind-the-Scenes Ice Cream Making at BlackbirdBy Sarah Freeman | January 23, 2014 By Sarah Freeman | January 23, 2014
Dana Cree is considered one of the city's finest pastry chefs, working at Blackbird, one of the city's most respected restaurants. But all she really wants is to own an ice cream shop.
Before landing at the West Loop mainstay, Cree was working at an ice cream parlor in Seattle. The popular restaurant Poppy had just opened without a pastry chef, and two days later, Cree was hired to run its pastry and ice cream program. "The ice cream section of the menu captured my heart," she said. Since childhood, some of her fondest and earliest memories have revolved around the stuff.
Fast forward to Cree's post at Blackbird. When One Off Hospitality started seeking out signature items from its restaurants to feature on the shelves of Publican Quality Meats, Cree broke out the ice cream maker. The combination of her fine-dining background and nostalgic love of ice cream resulted in an impossibly creamy product layered with gourmet ingredients hand-packed into individually labeled pints.
Since July, Cree's artisanal ice cream has held a place in the PQM freezer - if only for a hot second. Just six to 12 pints of each flavor is made, some of which, due to their rapidly growing cult following, sell out the same day they hit the shelves. Flavors have included peach bourbon, strawberry and candy cane for the holidays, and she's currently working on her flavors for Valentine's Day.
We went into the Blackbird kitchen with Cree to watch her work her magic. Check out her meticulous process below, and follow the ice cream on Twitter at @Hello_IceCream for updates on the next batch.