Big Dipper Creamery stays serious about ice cream all year long
Most individuals who reside abroad for an prolonged time frame know that they’re fluent of their native language once they begin dreaming within the language.
For Sami Cooper, it wasn’t the language of her goals however her content material that marked a turning level.
“Mom, I only dream in ice,” Cooper mentioned when she known as her mother from Vietnam.
It wasn’t that the nation’s local weather was too heat for Cooper. The unique flavors and spices of conventional Vietnamese meals made her need to create one thing out of it.
Cooper had at all times been a “foodie,” a label she had nearly genetically.
The Sand Springs native, who owns and operates Big Dipper Creamery’s three areas — the unique at Tulsa’s Mother Road Market, the most recent in Brookside, and the Sand Springs one which acts because the kitchen for all three areas — first noticed her grandfather after which her dad and mom spend their lives and careers within the hospitality trade.
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Her grandfather, Lee Blair, ran Lee’s Drive-in in Sand Springs for 20 years till he retired in 1982, and her dad and mom, Benny and Terri Blair, owned and operated the city’s Crescent Café for 25 years, till January 2018 went into retirement.
But how do you marry basic American diner fare with the unique delights of Asia and get away with…ice cream?
“It all starts at the base of the ice,” Cooper mentioned. “What flavor do we want to build around?”
She described the event of a lately made brittle pistachio cardamom ice cream:
“We’re beginning with cardamom, however what are we going to do with it? Pistachios are nice, so let’s odor them with pistachios. Then we need to add texture to the ice cream, and being crunchy is very nice, so we add the precise roasted pistachios.
“Then sometimes you want a little bit of melty sweetness to that texture, and this is where we add the brittle, which melts really well in the ice cream.”
“It just creates this multi-faceted, multi-layered ice cream experience,” Cooper mentioned. “That’s why we take our ice cream very seriously, how we formulate it, make it and then test it.”
Every now and again a taste will get despatched again to the drafting board earlier than it goes to the patron, she mentioned, however it’s uncommon that one thing cannot be custom-made as a result of there are at all times unexplored flavors to work with.
If you already know what you are doing, that is it. But the place does one get this data of taste profiles and such?
“Well, I love food, so I eat it,” Cooper mentioned. “That’s what I call field work.”
However, she principally credit her success to her curiosity about attempting completely different flavors and the work she places in “figuring out what kind of feelings and emotions each flavor evokes.”
“Different things can make you feel warm, you can feel energized.”
Cooper mentioned she actually received desirous about meals when she and her husband Brian Cooper, who was her boyfriend on the time, traveled overseas.
“We lived in Vietnam for a couple of years where we started eating a lot of different cuisines that we had never tried before – at least in my life,” she mentioned. “And that is how I actually received desirous about cooking and spices and the way flavors develop and work together. It’s a good looking artwork.”
But it wasn’t till they moved to Morocco that Cooper “really started cooking every day and learned how different flavors come together.”
“They have these great markets everywhere with lots of different spices,” she mentioned. “So you would go every day and just pick what you wanted to play around with and then go home and play around with it and you would create something.”
She favored the fusion of creativity and meals as one thing that was each enjoyable and unique, but additionally acquainted and cozy.
“I thought, ‘Why Not Food? i know food I grew up in the food industry,” she mentioned.
“And me love Ice.”
This “food” seed may need germinated overseas, however its ice cream DNA — particularly artisanal ice cream — was formulated in Portland, Oregon, the place the Coopers lived simply previous to their abroad journeys.
They each labored on a chestnut farm; he additionally labored at a brewery, and he or she additionally labored at an artisanal ice cream store.
“It was my first time trying ice cream in small batches with heavy butterfat — which is very important —” Cooper mentioned. “I thought, ‘Well, that’s fun.'”
Although most cooks will inform you that cooking is each a science and an artwork, Cooper’s favourite factor to suppose about is her merchandise.
“The cream, milk, and sugar are your canvas, and all the other ingredients you throw in, that’s your finished painting,” she mentioned. “I like to use this metaphor when we create ice cream.”
But whereas ice cream could be her outlet for creativity, it is Cooper’s operating a enterprise the place she desires her head absolutely concerned.
Just 4 years since its debut as a first-time tenant on Mother Road Market; only one year since opening the second location in Sand Springs; and nonetheless basking within the glow of the opening of the Brookside location, her head have to be spinning.
“Scaling is a challenge. It goes like a big wave, and you just run towards it and try to keep up,” Cooper said.
“I want to say it’s a lot of hard work – as if the hard work surprised me – but that didn’t really surprise me. I kinda expected it. But it surprised me how well it worked.
“Whenever you start a business, you always expect what’s going to go wrong,” she said. “At least that’s my process. … I think with expectations like that, it can be kind of a surprise when things go well. And that was very pleasant.”
“I was also surprised at Sand Springs’ reception for an artisan ice cream shop. I didn’t know exactly how it would end up here. But I grew up here and this is my home and it was really nice to be welcomed into my community with open arms and an open mind.”
Cooper graduated from Charles Page High School in 2005, a year after her husband. Today the couple have two children, Arlo, who is 3½ years old, and Charlie, their 1½ year old daughter.
And just as Cooper grew up in the food industry, her family invests in her success as well.
Her father served as contractor for the renovation of the Sand Springs site. Her mother does the seasonal and window decorations for this place. Her older sister Crystal Hendricks was the interior designer for the Sand Springs and Brookside locations; and her younger sister Mandi Gordon is her production manager.
While those familiar faces are nice, ice cream is why people show up — or don’t. So how do you keep people going?
One key, Cooper said, is sourcing seasonal ingredients from local growers and local vendors.
“It tastes higher when it is grown proper right here, and also you’re additionally supporting your native financial system and your native farmers,” she said.
And so you get flavors like roasted strawberries in spring, corn ice cream in July, and roasted sweet potatoes with roasted marshmallows in fall.
What’s next on their bucket list? Cooper was a bit shy, but she might have mentioned a cinnamon roll ice cream in some fashion.
“But it would not be that straightforward,” she mentioned. “It would be an interpretation or a riff on a cinnamon roll. Like maybe a deconstructed cinnamon roll.”