When Bruce Hill took over Picco in Larkspur in 2005, he inherited a soft-serve ice cream machine, sparking memories of an East Coast childhood spent devouring cones at carnivals, county fairs and the local Carvel. Knowing that soft-serve typically contains half the fat of regular ice cream, Hill started making his own with Straus Creamery's organic ice cream mix. He meticulously tweaked the recipe until he nailed the perfect texture and has gone on to great success serving it at Zero Zero and Pizzeria Picco as well. Hill even persuaded Straus to introduce the soft-serve mix that is now the local industry standard. "It's all based on my childhood memories," he admits, "so it's really just me trying to recapture my childhood."
He's captured more than memories of being a kid. Hill told the New York Times that he was making six figures a year on soft-serve - and that was six years ago. Today, he continues to offer just two flavors: vanilla and chocolate, with a host of gourmet toppings like chipotle caramel sauce, housemade granola and Fiordolio olive oil. You can try out his latest mad-scientist move - Straus frozen custard - at the new Fog City on the Embarcadero. But more on that later.