An Interview with Honeysuckle Gelato
My love affair with gelato began years ago. Years. Its creamy, silky, smooth texture with offerings like pistachio or watermelon I find completely irresistible. Gelato, which many consider the Italian cousin to traditional ice cream, has an elasticity and fluidity you won’t find in your local parlor. Enter, Honeysuckle Gelato, an Atlanta-based company that started with a food truck but now you can find at Ponce City Market and grocers across the region! Read more about their journey below!
1. If you could describe Honeysuckle Gelato's food philosophy in one sentence it would be....
Our goal is to combine the rich and smooth texture of gelato with the decadent flavors and desserts of the South while using the finest and freshest ingredients.
2. What is most important to your product (i.e. quality, whole foods)?
Providing a high quality product is by far our main goal here at Honeysuckle Gelato. We get fresh local dairy delivered twice a week by our farmer Jimmy Franks over at Southern Swiss Dairy in Waynesboro, GA. Whenever we can, we do our best to source locally but this is obviously not always an option when we need things such as vanilla and it’s simply not available on a local or even national level. So while we do our best to stay local- fresh and high quality ingredients is our main goal and that is how we ensure the quality of our products.
3. Who is on your team for developing flavors? My business partner Jackson Smith oversees our production and so when we first started the company in 2011 he would make stuff and get feedback from me and my other business partner Wes Jones. Since then, it has really become a team effort and I think this is the part of the business where everyone including our employees love to get involved. Our production manager, Michael Callaway, who has been with us now for almost 3 years is really great when it comes to developing flavors. He and I text back and forth anytime we eat something delicious or see something that we think can work in gelato form. Actually, I think this is kind of a standard practice for all of us now.
4. Where do you source most of your ingredients? As I mentioned earlier, we source our dairy, which is the main ingredient in our gelato, locally and anytime we can use local fruits and nuts we make sure to do so. We are fortunate because Georgia affords us an opportunity to get a wide array of fruits all year around. However, when things cannot be found locally like vanilla, then we scope out the the best quality ingredients worldwide and always strive to maintain the high quality standards we have set for our products.
5. It is your birthday, what are you having? :) My answer is simple: Honeysuckle’s Vanilla Gelato!
I have always been a true ‘chocoholic’! If you had asked me this question years ago I would have said one of our brownie sandwiches with dark chocolate gelato and fudge sauce, but now that I have been introduced to so many other amazing options I have learned to ease up on the chocolate. I would probably go with a two scoop combo of our cheesecake gelato and our dark chocolate gelato topped with our house made raspberry sauce!
6. How did you come up with your name? Jackson actually came up with the name. The three of us were trying to come up with something and one day Jackson just called Wes on the phone and blurted out "Honeysuckle" and then hung up. He probably didn't call me because I am from New York City originally and he figured I wouldn't get it. The idea behind it is that while he was growing up in GA he has fond childhood memories of coming across honeysuckle flowers and it serves as a nostalgic reminder of a sweet and natural treat.
7. Silver Spoons Nutrition loves the idea of giving back - how did you become involved with the Atlanta Community Food Bank?
When the 3 of us first got together and long before we had the details on our business plan nailed down, we all agreed that we wanted to have some sort of social mission tied to our business. We all have a background in education and at the that time had talked about various ways we could work with the youth in our community and do various educational programs. By the time we had finally built our business to place where could give back, we had developed a good understanding of the work that was being right done down the street from our production facility by our friends at the Atlanta Community Food Bank. We decided to partner with them by giving back 5% of all of the money we make at our retail shop over at Ponce City Market. Since we opened our doors at Ponce in late September of 2015 we have donated over 30,000 meals and counting to our neighbors in need.
8. Is there a signature Honeysuckle Gelato flavor? We don't really have a signature flavor, but we do layer in our house made sea-salted caramel sauce in a ton of our flavors and so one of the classic gelato pairings has been one scoop of our vanilla bean gelato paired with one scoop of our dark chocolate gelato and then topped off with our sea-salted caramel sauce.
9. For the readers, describe the difference between gelato and ice cream.
The simple and short answer is that gelato has less air and less fat. So just to explain that a little further, while both gelato and ice cream use dairy, the dairy used in gelato traditionally has less fat. The fat content of dairy used in ice cream can range anywhere from 12% to 15% and for gelato it can run anywhere from 4% to 10%. Here at Honeysuckle we use an 8% fat content in our dairy and no eggs in our gelato. As for the production method, ice cream is generally whipped faster than gelato and therefore has air whipped into it. Gelato is whipped colder and slower and therefore comes out as a creamer and denser product.
10. The future of Honeysuckle Gelato….
While we started off as a food truck back in 2011 our main goal was to always open a retail shop. In fact, our mindset behind the use of our food truck was to gauge the community's feedback to our gelato, perfect our offerings and determine the best location for our retail shop. We finally got our first stab at that in September of 2015 when we opened our first retail shop at Ponce City Market. It has been an amazing first few months in business and the thing we enjoy the most is being in front of our customers again and having that direct and immediate feedback from them. We are very interested in opening more retail shops regionally and will continue to grow the wholesale side of our business with our pints, mini servings and a few new items we hope to introduce this spring/summer. We love what we do and we want to share our gelato with as many people as we can!
If you haven’t already, Silver Spoon Nutrition encourages you to get out and try a scoop (or two) of Honeysuckle Gelato! You won’t be disappointed and your purchase is not only delicious, it’s going toward a meaningful cause! Tell us what your favorite flavor is on our Facebook page with the hashtag #honeysucklegelato!