your insider guide for a local perspective on Nashville, Tennessee.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Experience Nashville Interview: Jeni Britton Bauer

Those of you who know me, or follow Experience Nashville in any capacity, know and understand my (slight) obsession with the brand that is Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams. From the attention to the smallest impeccable details in their scoop shops, to their fun and funky marketing campaigns, their always top-notch customer service, and to what my opinion is the best ice cream in the world, Jeni's is the total package.

I recently had the privilege to sit down and chat with the brains behind the brand, the fabulous Ms. Jeni Britton Bauer. To say I was nervous is a slight... understatement. Thankfully, she was incredibly gracious (and cool as hell, not surprising) during the interview. I was able to find out some scoop on the company, their Nashville locales including the BRAND NEW shop opening September 13 in 12 South, and a few of Jeni's favorite places she makes sure to visit when in town.
jeni's ice cream nashville
photo courtesy of
So one of my first questions for Jeni was, why Nashville? As you may or may not know, the company was founded in Columbus, Ohio and prior to opening the East Nashville location, only had a brick and mortar presence there. Her answer was simple: family. Being a halfway point between Columbus and Jeni's family in Arkansas, in addition to having the in-laws as Nashville locals, deemed our city the lucky recipient of Jeni's largest store. What at first surely seemed to be a bit daunting with the large space ended up being a blessing in disguise which if you've visited recently, will understand as it seems there is always a line out the door. And ya'll. Don't let the line intimidate youit's well worth the wait!

Here are a few more highlights from our interview:

EN: Why did you choose 12 South for your new locale?

Jeni: It's the perfect spot... We like to be in neighborhoods where ice cream is a part of the experience. You go shopping, you go to dinner, you go have a drink somewhere. It's a dynamic neighborhood, with a great synergy among all of the merchants in it.

EN: I'm fascinated with the idea of what is your test kitchen, and am always AMAZED at the flavors that come out of it. Can you tell me a bit about how you come up with these flavors?

Jeni: The flavors start with me in the test kitchen*. Usually inspired by somebody telling me about an ingredient they were growing, or, somebody sends me a sample of a cheese they were making. I get a lot of samplesnot all of them make it into ice creams, but the right ones do. I'm also sometimes inspired by a person like Zelda Fitzgerald, who grew up in Birmingham, Alabama eating blackberries and sweet cream, and peaches and biscuits. I start testing and creating recipes with several assistants, which goes through many renditions, a lot of which end up on the cutting floor. We then decide on which one to go with, take it to the bigger kitchen, and then train our employees on how to make it.

LOVE it.

*Jeni's doesn't have a modern ice cream kitchen like you might imagine. A highly trained staff of 80 are responsible for every batch that goes out the door. They do everything from hand-crafting the marshmallows to hand writing the flavors on each and every pint.

EN: If you HAD to pick one flavor.. Which is your favorite?

Jeni: It's always the lemon yogurt. I never get sick of itit's the simplest, humblest flavor we make. And then, salty caramel in the winter, of course.

Next up.. I wanted to find out some of her favorite things to do when in Nashville:

Jeni's Top choices for a great meal:
Rolf & Daughters, City House, Holland House, Local Taco, Burger Up

Favorite places to grab a drink:
Pharmacy, Patterson House

Top Brunch Spots:
Barista Parlor, Fido, Marche

Favorite shops in and around Nashville:
Posh, Otis James for their Lady Ties, Emil Irwin, and  Annie Williams

I am loving her choices.. and I even learned of a few new places to check out myself!

Finally, stay tuned for the follow-up to her James Beard award winning book Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams at Home. Jeni let me know that she turned in her final manuscript a few weeks backand let's just say it sounds incredible. From several new recipes (and they're not just ice cream) to her take on the ever-evolving landscape here in Nashville and what it means to her, I know this is sure to be another winner from Ms. Britton Bauer that we will not want to miss!

JeniCongratulations on all your continued success and thanks for taking a few minutes to sit down and chat!


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