The flavor maven behind Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, Jeni Britton Bauer, is a true pioneer of the artisanal ice cream movement. Established over fifteen years ago, her Certified B Corporation now includes 25 stores nationwide. Lucky for us, she opened an outpost directly next to our store in Venice Beach back in 2017. We stole Jeni away from the test kitchen to give us the inside scoop on her evening routine, her favorite caffeinated ice cream concoction and just how long she’s ever gone without ice cream…
Are the vibrant colors and designs of your stores a reflection of your own personal taste (zing!)? How would you describe the style of your Columbus, Ohio home?
I want my stores to be like galleries for ice cream, but friendlier. We want your attention to be on the beautiful ice cream and the company you’re in. Our shops are designed with simplicity in mind, while still being warm and fun. I love designing the finishes for the stores. I take time to reflect on the neighborhood and surroundings before creating an environment unique to each location – and a place we’re all happy to be in. It has taken a lifetime of work to achieve this!
I would describe my home as recovering Nixon-era. Some of that aesthetic (brass and gold everywhere, chandeliers over doorways, Chinese-themed wallpaper and a sprawling split-level) we wanted to hold on to, while some we had to get rid of (wall-to-wall carpet that matched the wall-to-wall curtains). Right now, I have a giant bedroom with plush coral carpeting – my kids love to use the space as their stage or for acrobatics! The room has two stories of windows on three sides and lots of dark wood built-ins. It’s always full of natural light, and I can’t help but wake up happy. I love my home, but it’s a work in progress.
Bedside tables can reveal a lot about a person. What’s on yours?
Books! I have several stacked so high and spread out that every night they fall-down like dominoes. My collection is a blend of my personal books and my children’s. I am usually reading two to three books at a time – it’s where I find my deepest inspiration. I also keep some really nice hand lotion on my nightstand.
You began your ice cream business with a love of scents and fragrance making. What aromas or essential oils do you recommend for a good night’s sleep?
I love scent. Just talking about it makes me feel happy and inspired! I like to believe that sweet orange will give me peaceful and joyful dreams, while ylang ylang makes me feel a bit euphoric. I also recommend fennel, clove or frankincense in the evening (good for dreams that involve time travel). When in doubt, a touch of rose always does the trick, too.
Walk us through your nightly regimen.
I am very protective of my nightly routine. I often take a long bath to get more work done (I consider my bathroom an office). I’ll then apply an exfoliant from Caudalie, and some luxurious moisturizers and oils from goop and Glossier. I like to slip into a nightgown after my bath – I have several and travel with them, too. They are hard to find! I love a full-length, Joan Crawford style number. I layer a robe on top and add 1.5-inch gold slipper heels to iron or put clothes away. I generally don’t leave the room until I’m dressed the next morning. I love my bedroom and dream about it when I’m not there.
When I can’t sleep, I…
Shop! Just last night I waited for the midnight drop from ace&jig – bad habit. Or read, of course.
True or false: Ice cream tastes better in bed?
I’m going with TRUE. Everything tastes better in bed…
You began your culinary career working in a bakery, so what’s your perfect breakfast in bed spread (double zing!)?
Dark roast coffee with cream (cream is reserved for Sundays only). A large platter of sliced fruit, full fat yogurt with a squeeze of lemon juice, a touch of honey and poppy seeds. And F1 racing on the TV.
What’s the best coffee and ice cream combination? Affogato? Coffee ice cream? Share your favorite caffeinated ice cream combos please…
Our House Coffee! It’s a cup of Intelligentsia coffee with a little scoop of our amazing Sweet Cream ice cream. It’s one of our most flavorful ice creams, even though it’s just really good cream, milk and sugar. I am also known to drink a cup of Intelligentsia coffee with a scoop of Intelligentsia Black Cat Espresso ice cream, too. Coffee presents itself differently when you steep it in water versus cream. When you steep coffee directly in cream (how we do it), the ice cream tastes just like fresh ground coffee smells. It’s the ultimate double down.
Your brand produces seasonal flavors based on local farm fresh ingredients. Does your selection vary by store location? If you could source any ingredient year-round, which would it be and why?
Our store content does vary a bit by location, but for the most part we see similar tastes between our customers from coast to coast. Geography is playing less of a role in culture now. Not to say that there aren’t differences, but it’s not quite as big as most think (at least in terms of ice cream sales). And Honeybell oranges year-round would be quite a feat!
We’re stoked to welcome your new scoop shop next door to us here in Venice. What inspired your decision to open in this neighborhood?
I came to Los Angeles on a book tour in 2012 and fell in love with Venice Beach. I love the history of L.A. (ghosts and all) and couldn’t wait to open here. Also, we’ve been shipping ice cream to Los Angeles since 2004, and specifically Venice Beach. We know where our fans are and we purposely open for them, as well as the whole community.
We love dogs and have an entire Instagram hashtag dedicated to the #DogsOfParachute. Have you ever considered a flavor for pups?
I made a dog flavor, had a dog party and none of the dogs liked it! I ended up with little puddles of dog ice cream all over the sidewalks. That was when I realized that dogs just love our ice cream, they don’t need anything special. We should do #DogsOfJenis because we have dog pals all over the U.S.!
What’s the longest you’ve gone without eating ice cream?
Probably a week, maybe less.
If you were stuck on a deserted island and could only bring three pints of Jeni’s, what would they be?
Lemon Buttermilk Frozen Yogurt, Salty Caramel and Darkest Chocolate. I know, they sound boring, but they aren’t! It’s not common for a yogurt to be this tart and this fragrant and this creamy! Our Salty Caramel is made one batch at a time by toasting sugar over fire. And our Darkest Chocolate is a true chocolatier’s dream. Many ice cream makers struggle to get their chocolate just right – it took me about five years to perfect the recipe, plus another five to find a top quality fair trade cocoa. But we’ve done it!
We love to mix and match our bedding. What is your favorite ice cream combination?
I like things that clash because they draw attention to each other – my husband and I are kind of like that. I love Darkest Chocolate with Lemon Buttermilk Frozen Yogurt and some Wildberry Lavender ice cream. They are so beautiful together.