To say Los Angeles has taken a liking to Salt & Straw, the Portland, Ore.–based ice cream operation that opened a location here last year, would be an understatement. The Larchmont Village shop is rarely without a line down the block, and the company has just announced two new L.A. locations. This fall, Venice will get a shop on Abbot Kinney, and next year they'll expand to the Arts District downtown. But downtown residents needn't wait for their ice cream fix — as of today a cart will operate outside the future shop at 829 E. Third St. from noon to 10 p.m. daily.
Given Salt & Straw's wild popularity and rapid expansion, we decided to catch up with Tyler Malek, its co-founder and head ice cream maker, to see what tools have contributed to his success.
Small-Batch Ice Cream Machine
"This is the most obvious of all our ice cream–making tools. At Salt & Straw I like to use little 5-gallon Carpigiani gelato machines; they're like the Toyota of ice cream machines. We beat them up every day, then clean and start again the next day, disregarding the abuse that our experimental techniques and ingredients put on the little Carpi's the day before."
"I know this sounds silly, but I've broken more spatulas in my life than I'd like to admit. I remember the day, nay the hour, that I found Vollrath Jacob's Pride Spatulas. I have no idea why these spatulas are so much better. ... My guess is that they're made from some magical composite material designed by extraterrestrial beings. Amazing."
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"Yes! Everyone has a nice thermometer in our kitchen, our thermometers are calibrated daily, our thermometers are king. We try to constantly push the limit with our ice cream recipes in order to create textures and flavors that are guaranteed to deliver happiness. Our caramel recipe, for example, is cooked to the 10th degree every time, every day, no matter what."
"I love checklists. I love the feeling of accomplishing your day and knowing that what you did will make you successful going home each night. We try really hard to make sure that every 5-gallon batch of ice cream leaving our kitchen is made the same way each time, and we have checked off and know every ingredient that has gone into every bucket."
3HP Immersion Blender
"Like the muscle cars of a kitchen, I have three. All the same. I like to line them up each night parked on their wall hooks and admire these beauties. Our immersion blenders can be immersed in anything and blend anything. Our blenders are like a safety blanket in the kitchen: If all else fails, blend it."
"Honestly, my dairy is my best friend. We work super closely with the team at our dairy, because our cream is constantly changing depending on the season. We have to adjust our recipes daily to keep connected to what is going on with the cows and based on how the cream comes in from the farm. It's pretty magical, scientific and delicious."