So, we must know… What sparked the inspiration to start Frankie & Jo's?
Frankie & Jo’s was born from a deeply personal journey. I grew up in a family that revered ice cream as a daily ritual – and we all still love it. At the age of 20, I solidified my career as a pastry chef/chocolatier, then quickly thereafter found out I had a dairy allergy. In 2009, after years of struggle, balancing my career and this sensitivity, I formally gave up dairy and pretty much since then, have been dreaming about making a high-end, ultra creamy, no-compromise vegan ice cream. Finally in 2013, everything started to come together – the name, the vision, the flavors, the search for a business partner. Frankie & Jo’s was birthed to make an incredibly high-end vegan ice cream, some sweetened with just whole dates and flavored with vegetables, and change the tradition of ice cream for good.
We love that you have an all women run farm in Mexico that you source the vanilla beans from! How important is sourcing to you? How do you begin the search?
Thank you, we love supporting them and their amazing vanilla. Sourcing is wildly important to us, and should be for any food business. Vanilla from Madagascar and Tahiti has been so popularized over the many years, and the mass of us has forgotten that its origins are Mexico, and that Mexico is still producing amazing vanilla. Buying vanilla from Norma is a small, but important gesture to help put Mexico back on the map as a serious and delicious vanilla producer. This is just one of the ways that intentional sourcing can be meaningful and positive. For a company looking to source more thoughtfully, a good place to start is researching the history of the ingredient – this can lead you back to many small and quality producers. We found the vanilla from Norma at the Fancy Food Show, by sparking a conversation with a chef I have admired for years, Susana Trilling. We got to talking about Mexican vanilla, and she told us about Norma. Within months I was in Veracruz, Mexico, hand-pollinating a vanilla orchid flower and learning the deep history of vanilla and the farming of, from Norma who is a 5th generation vanilla farmer, and the first female to do so. This type of connection and depth is truly what made me want to dedicate my life to food.
What does sustainability look like for Frankie & Jo’s?
Sustainability at the very root of the word, is something that is maintained or is lasting. In business, it’s easy to make choices that yield the highest profits, but to be profitable and tend to the earth, its people and animals takes focus and dedication. To us, sustainability means never stopping at good enough when it comes to the steps in the ladder of making ice cream. We examine everything from ingredient sourcing, employee experience, community impact and energy consumption, to name a few. We are in the process of becoming a certified B Corp, which we like as a measure to hold us very accountable in all aspects of doing business.
What are some of your favorite flavors currently?
My all-time favorite is the Chocolate Date. It never fails to hit every mark for me – deeply chocolaty, super creamy and smooth, the right amount of salt, only 5 ingredients and sweetened only with dates. It’s the first ice cream I developed back in 2014, and with the talent of our team, has only improved. It’s truly magic and a game-changer in the ice cream world. Another flavor that has me right now is the Tococcino (in partnership with you!) – an insanely creamy, coffee-forward ice cream with chunks of coffee chocolate bar – coconut base, sweetened with coconut sugar and has Sun Potion Tocos! It is SO. GOOD.
What are you most excited about, RIGHT NOW?
Opening more ice cream shops! The vision from day one has been to show people a new tradition of ice cream – this means serving more plant ice cream! We are opening a few shops locally in 2020 and have fun plans for 2021…
What is currently in your morning or evening #apotionaday? I have Chaga, Pearl and He Shou Wu in my morning hot drink (dandy blend, collagen, Chaga, He Shou Wu, Pearl, coconut milk, sea salt and maple), and throughout the day I will take Reishi and Lion's Mane in tincture form. Depending on the season and need, I also love Ashwagandha and Shatavari.
How do you feel like herbs and ice cream work together and what inspired you to choose Ashitaba, Reishi and Tocos for these seasonal ice cream flavors?
I love love love herbs and ice cream and have been using medicinal plants in my desserts as far back as 2002. In 2016, I studied herbalism at the International Integrative Educational Institute, where my knowledge, love and awareness of plant medicine only grew to new levels. Plants are so wise and I am grateful to have their wisdom in my body, in any food, and love to provide that to our customers, even in small amounts. Because nobody is going to eat a scoop of ice cream a day to get their does of herbs, but if it can be in there, why not?
Ashitaba and its overall strengthening of the spirit works well in the Velvet Heart Beet, which is a heart-healing ice cream with beets, chocolate and hawthorne berry.
Reishi and chocolate…need I say more!?
And the Tocos- we thought of our coffee ice cream with Tocos as one would their morning coffee – it adds that richness and creaminess and it really upped the creaminess in our Tococcino flavor.
What's the most unique ice cream you have ever made?
This is a tough question - we have done so many intriguing and unique flavors! Using vegetables is an important branch of our vision, so the ones with carrots, kale, tubers, tomato (even though technically a fruit :), cucumber – these flavors really move and inspire me, as they are so unexpected in ice cream, and show kids that veggies can be fun.
Is there a flagship flavor that you’ll carry forever?
Chocolate Date, always and forever.
What was your favorite flavor of ice cream while growing up?
I ate coffee, chocolate, vanilla and cookies & cream. Loved them all the same.