Chef Liz Rogers discusses her groundbreaking artisan ice-cream company, Creamalicious, its decadent flavors, and her biggest sources of inspiration.
Tell us about yourself. What inspired you to found Creamalicious?
I am an executive chef and restauranteur. I’ve been in the business for about twenty years and have a marketing background. Before becoming a chef, I ran my own advertising agency, which allowed me to save money and open a restaurant. I created Creamalicious inside my restaurant about ten years ago.
My mom was a single parent of four and a welder who worked long hours. I’m the oldest child, so I cooked for my three brothers. She was more of a savory chef, and my grandmother and aunt made sweets. My mom’s dream was to own a restaurant, but she couldn’t do that because she was a single parent. That’s what inspired me to go into this business—she vicariously lived her dream through me.
What did food mean to your family?
All the women in my family communicated and bonded through food. I would spend the summers with my grandmother making things like pound cakes and other desserts and then eat them on the porch. My mom, who unexpectedly passed away in December, was the inspiration for our Granma GiGi’s Sweet Potato Pie flavor because she would bake twenty to thirty pies for the holidays. So to be able to capture that and see others enjoy it and relate to it is amazing.
Tell us about your family’s Southern influences:
I live in Cincinnati, but I’m from Cleveland, which is even farther away from the South. But my grandparents are from there, and I have uncles and cousins who live there. A lot of great things came out of the South. It’s known for amazing culinary cuisine and its deep, rich history, so I really wanted to make sure people understood that Creamalicious is more than a dessert. It’s an experience, and each product tells a story.
Who else inspires your ice-cream flavors?
They’re all inspired by real people in my life. For example, Aunt Poonie’s Caramel Pound Cake was named after my godmother, who baked everything in a cast-iron skillet. That may not seem like a big deal, but that skillet has a history of creating flavors. It’s over one hundred years old and has been passed down from generation to generation. Also, everyone has a favorite uncle who’s really cool, and that was the inspiration for my Uncle Charles Brown Suga Bourbon Cake. Then there’s the Porch Light Peach Cobbler. When we were growing up, we played outside until the streetlights came on; when they did, we knew it was time to go home. For people from the South, it also signifies that no matter how far you go away, the porch light will be left on and people will be waiting for you. It says that you’re welcome in this house.
Is “welcoming” something that defines your brand overall?
You hit the nail on the head. It’s really about love, family, and sharing. Creamalicious is a very welcoming brand—even though a lot is happening in the world and people may look different or come from different backgrounds, we all have something in common: enjoying a scoop of ice cream.
What makes your ice creams unique?
They are two-in-one desserts, kind of like an à la mode dessert. The sweet potato pie ice cream, for example, tastes like a pureed sweet potato pie, but it also has piecrust chunks, which is an amazing, unexpected taste experience.
You’re one of the only Black-owned mass-produced ice-cream businesses in the world. What does that mean to you?
To be a trailblazer is a huge honor because I had a dream that I fought for. But it’s bigger than me and the brand. At Creamalicious, we say there’s a dream in every scoop. As soon as you open the container, you’ll see a message from me, such as “Go for your dreams.” If you have a passion, you must work very hard on it. I took three jobs, including product development and R and D for other companies’ private labels, to make this happen. It’s not an overnight success story—I worked on Creamalicious, from the ideation to the product development, for many years. But it was worth it; my dream became a reality.
What are your favorite Creamalicious flavors? Do you have anything else in the pipeline?
Our seven new flavors, especially Ida Mae’s Apple Cobbler and Strawberry Fixin’ to Crunch Cake, are amazing. We also have nondairy sorbets coming out that are made with things like champagne and sangria, as well as a line of indulgent creamers. We’ve also developed a complete dessert line. As always, everything will be innovative and extremely creamy, which are trademarks of our brand.
What’s the inspiration for the Elizabeth A. Rogers Foundation?
For me, it’s not about the destination; it’s about the journey. On my journey, I’ve met and been inspired by so many people. So I want people to experience my dream through Creamalicious, but I also want it to be a platform that helps other entrepreneurs realize their dreams. That brings me true joy. If I can inspire one person, especially a small-business owner, and then they can inspire someone else, before you know it, you’re reaching out across the globe. After all, our country was founded on small businesses. And, to be honest, I’m a champion for the underdog because I am the underdog. We’re in stores like Walmart, Target, Kroger, and Meijer, so to the left of us might be Ben & Jerry’s and to the right Häagen-Dazs.
My foundation is focused on teaching people what it takes to be an entrepreneur. For example, some say they don’t want to work for anyone else, but I stress to them that if you can work hard for someone else, you’ll do well in your own business. I also want to make sure that I am providing jobs and resources and building teams because one of the biggest things I emphasize is you can’t do everything by yourself. No one person is responsible for a business’s success.
What does authenticity mean to you?
At the end of the day, I want to make sure that we are extremely authentic. I don’t want to be like everybody else, conform to what’s already on the shelf, or be told what I should be doing, whether that’s regarding my product or packaging. I want to be my own niche market and create my own authentic category where the stories make the ice cream. Creamalicious is not only about what you’re eating but also what it represents to you at that moment—you’ll reminisce about your home or childhood and smile.
For more info, visit socreamalicious.com