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Chef Kami’s Corner


July 19, 2017

During my many travels, I pride myself on the idea that I am able and willing to try unique cocktails, pastas, pizzas, triple-high sandwiches, greasy burgers, salty fries, fried…..everything, scrumptious sides and veggies, salads, and even sparkling drinks that tickle my nose and have me craving more. My big goal on any trip are to find a donut shop, because nothing in the world is better than a beautifully glazed and chocolate iced donut. My other big objective while traveling is to seek out the shops within the Asian neighborhoods, or at least try to land dinner with a BBbop, steamed bun, or even tacos with the influence. As you can tell, I’m nibbling a lot and thankfully my job has me in and out of airports, lugging heavy bags, or I might need to check into a food-a-holics anonymous for help!

My travels take me to the four corners of the United States and a few places abroad; however, once a month, I travel to our headquarters to work with our amazing developers and see the team for connection and relationships. Knowing the team and understanding each person is important to me, so to be present is vital. While in Dallas, Tx. (headquarters for Pecan Deluxe) I love venturing out in the evenings to take advantage of the niche neighborhood food finds, parks, bars, pubs, and well, I’ll admit, shopping!

While at work this week the Marketing Director< Tara and I, ventured out in search of the latest and greatest ice cream shops since our candies and inclusions find their way into many brands of ice creams all over the globe. We visited several stores and the sweet finds were great, but one place in particular set in motion a new love, passion, and appreciation for the love of flavor, ice cream, and family.

Betty Ringer Ice Cream

The scoop shop is located at Sylvan Thirty shopping area—a store within a strip mall-like complex off of Sylvan in Dallas. A simple glass door with a simple wooden sign, the name burned into it. Tara and I walked in…the décor, all white with bright, beautiful primary color blocks on the walls, but countertops and majority of walls, and tables—all white. Very clean, modern….kind of made me feel like an extra in the movie, “Internship” with Vince Vaughn where all of us will be working for Google!

The scoop cabinet is in front with 8 flavors available. While any hip, new place has the tablet POS adjacent for easier check-out, this place also still has a foot in the past with a cool, old record player scratch’n the vinyl-playing smooth, classic favorites, all for the customers to enjoy. Two very young, handsome boys helped us with flavors and tastings. Tara and I tried so many, but then the moment happened. We placed the sample of the Banana Pudding Ice Cream and Sweet Corn & Blackberry Jam Ice Cream in our mouths. Euphoria.

Let’s stop for a second. Shall we ponder these flavors? Banana Pudding is not new, not in the least. You see Banana Pudding offerings on most southern menus and it’s never a shock, nor a disappointment. You see, growing up in my family, everyone had a responsibility for every dinner/ family reunion. My parents always prepared the green beans and corn, German Chocolate Pie, deviled eggs, and Asian Slaw (as my dad was and is still an amazing gardener, growing over 7 varieties of poling green beans, corn, cucumbers, tomatoes, okra, zucchini, cantaloupe, watermelon, beets, and later in year, turnip greens. Every summer, my parents are slaves to the garden’s glory—stringing, breaking, shucking, peeling, cooking, mixing, soaking, and canning until the cupboards and freezers are full for another season).

My Aunt Leta always made the Syrian dishes—kibbeh (baked and stuffed), cabbage rolls, and butterscotch pie. Aunt Pat always prepared her special peanut butter bananas (peeled banana brushed with mayonnaise, then rolled in chopped, salted peanuts), broccoli casserole, potato casserole, sausage balls, and her prized possession—banana pudding.

Aunt Pat’s banana pudding would stop traffic, heal the sick, raise the dead, stop the dogs barking, and even put a smile on a grump’s face. Her pudding was and is THE most anticipated item on the dinner table, and not only do I personally want to gobble every ounce of it up…so does everyone else. To put this into perspective, the Banana Pudding ice cream sample I had at Betty Ringer Ice Cream, of which I ended up ordering a full scoop of, took me back to the family reunion dinners in East Tennessee.

Tara’s choice of ice cream was the Sweet Corn & Blackberry Jam. I must say this flavor combination was mesmerizing. Clean, simple, true, and authentic. Tara and I were blown away at the beautiful sweetness of corn, the small nibs of kernels, ribbon of blackberry jam that added just enough acid to balance the entirety of the scoop. She was nearly in tears as her first comment without thinking was,”…oh my Lord, this takes me back to shuckin’ corn with my Granny on the front porch…forgive me as I just close my eyes and savor this moment (and flavor).”

I sat there across the tiny little white table from Tara about to tear up myself—how beautiful memories are from those who have touched our hearts and our lives. What a special moment and such a treat that Tara and I would be taken back to the memories of our families by a simple scoop of ice cream? Those are the moments we live for as food professionals. Usually we are triggering the customers’ childhoods with our fabulous brown sugar pineapple ribbon, or the mint chocolate chip milkshakes, but to be the recipient of the memory—was an awesome experience. Until the next time, until the next bite, I cherish my moment at Betty Ringer Ice Cream, for they allowed Tara and I to sit and enjoy the afternoon in a different way.

-Kami R. Smith

Profood Tech 2017-Chicago

“Go Pro or Go Home!”

The team of Pecan Deluxe ventured out to Chicago to attend and exhibit at the ProFood Tech Show, formerly known as The International Dairy Show! In all of my corporate life of planning, setting up, running, and breaking down booths at other big show events, never did I truly execute and plan the way this team did and continues to do. The meetings, phone calls, text messages, facetimes, and practically smoke signals, were endless, so it felt last year, but after having attended and worked the booth as a first timer at Pecan Deluxe, I can honestly say.. WOW! Now THIS team knows how to plan a booth. Meetings filled with dozens of next steps, thoughtful improvements, engagement of team, participation of the team…you can see where this going. It wasn’t just the Marketing/Sales booth—it was ours! Total ownership of everyone at Pecan Deluxe. This isn’t just for the booth, it’s the culture, and the way of life as the Brigham family has created. One that I hold dear to my sweet, pastry heart, and one that I want to protect.

As a quick background the ProFood Tech show is an industry leader for the dairy market—not a retail show; rather, a manufacturer highlight. Machinery, packaging, flavor houses, inclusions (us!), and all things surrounding the dairy field (ice cream, cheese, and yogurt). Pretty cool to see! So as you can see the entrance to our booth, our new logo, the hanging sign and three windows on the back portion of the booth. You may be asking, “What is this booth representing?” Picnic? Family reunion style? BBQ? Nope—we created a “pop up” restaurant concept based on our three plant locations: United States, England, and Thailand.

The “pop-up” shop on the left side was our more US inspired, Brigham’s Bakery, showcasing the bakery capabilities of Pecan Deluxe Candy. The middle shop was Pecan Deluxe Snack House featuring snack blends inspired from the UK’s most popular menu itmes, and the third and final shop was, “Polar Thai Rolled Ice Cream,” named after “Polar Bear Ice Cream” where Pecan Deluxe originated. In this shop, “restaurant”, we featured our amazing ice cream innovation by utilizing the fried ice cream machine that allows freezing of ice cream base, then ‘rolled’ up and served with sauces and candies and literally looks like a jelly roll. Truly one of the coolest booth ideas I’ve ever seen!

As many may know a pop up restaurant is one that isn’t locked in a firm spot for any longer than 90 days. Many cities in the US have a fun destination for the ‘cool and hip’ crowds where all food cuisines can be an option for just a quick walk down a corridor. Outside eating, community gathering tables, and creating opportunities for networking and social time. I love the idea and as you can see, we were able to capture that same spirit within our booth—cable tables, metal school chairs, spools of paper towels, and….well, that was it! The setting was placed, and boy did the crowds approach to enjoy all we had to offer.

The Thai rolled ice cream and bakery items were all served in kraft paper boats (kind of what you would see at a food truck yard), but the snack blends were all served in the pre-printed paper cone cups. Our fabulous Marketing Director, Tara, ordered pre-printed paper cones serving vessels for the snacks blends–the old English type, newspaper-like headings, all reflected the feel and look of England… perfect, isn’t it! Oh, and the Pecan Deluxe logo stickers?!? Yep, another detail I loved.

We also showcased 8 fun and flavored-filled ice creams, all labeled using adorably designed stickers with the Pecan Deluxe logo and the ice cream names. You may ask….was this Tara’s idea? I will confirm YES! She never missed a beat! Look at each ice cream….my mouth watered every day at the beauty of what our development team had produced. Again, so much talent!

The week in Chicago was truly enjoyable, fun, and extremely tiring, but one of the most important missions for me is always (well, besides creating yummy desserts) connecting with people. Leadership, sales, marketing, culinary, and R&D were all present for the week of the show. Amazing how once out of the office, we find the fun in everyday life.

This is the team; this is everything to me! So what does one do outside of a busy show in Chicago? We eat! So many amazing restaurants to enjoy, so many sites to see, and too many fun corrals and bars to count. We worked our tails off at the show, but it never stopped us from enjoying a perfect meal and ‘breaking bread’ together. I love the term, “Breaking Bread,” as it delivers a sense of community, honor and respect for each person at the table. Every team member had a hand in the celebration and success of our booth—why not celebrate it every evening as a job well done?! Though I can’t even begin to explain my love and adoration for this company, what I can say is this team is family to me. They have my back, as I have theirs. My colleague, Smokey, one incredibly talented chef, is the foundation of our team. He teaches me every day to continue to be rational and mindful in all I do. The chef from our England plant was able to join us in Chicago for the week, and man, did we enjoy him! Chef Simon, a veteran in the industry, a work-horse in the kitchen, and quite the inquisitive guy at heart, worked the Thai rolled ice cream station with Smokey. First comment from Chef Simon—the attendees wanted to know him more. The accent was a big hit with mid-westerners. When you have these men at the bench, working and knocking out product, you have perfection. Simon and Smokey were amazing to watch, adored by our team and crew, and quite honestly, I’ve never seen Thai rolled ice cream look so inviting. Chefs connect on a level that’s hard to explain. We ‘get’ each other—artist to artist. There’s love for creativity, respect, passion, and drive. Not all can handle a chef in the kitchen, but the three of us are like magic. Though we may be small in number, we can handle the work-load of a brigade.

The work week was tough, but I’m so very proud of the team. I’m proud of Tara, the most amazing marketer I’ve ever worked with, proud of Sales in their abilities to dig into their customer’s brain and pull out the projects and have success, proud of the leadership team that supports us, provides strategy and help on a continual basis, and extremely proud that our President and CEO, Jay Brigham, continues to invest in our talents and mission to continue to push innovation and make the impossible, possible! So it is my honor, I raise my usual fancy cocktail (Tart Lady: Fresh tart lemonade + Alto’s Resposado Tequila + lime + ice) to the team of Pecan Deluxe Candy, and also to the city of Chicago—until next time…

-Chef Kami R. Smith