Q&A: FrozBroz Erik Powers and Ben Solberg

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Joy Summers
Erik Powers and Ben Solberg, otherwise known as the FrozBroz
Every Thursday, ice cream lovers in the know log onto their computers and hope that it's their week to get lucky. Once a week FrozBroz Ice Cream holds a contest to give away two of their precious pints of ice cream. Made with fresh cream and local eggs, each pint is crafted into a wonderful dense scoop of incredibly rich, luscious ice cream. The flavors are unconventional to say the least: almond, green anise with fig, cranberry with apple cider, cognac caramel, and  hazelnut mocha with whiskey caramel. Owners Erik Powers and Ben Solberg are clearly working beyond Ben or Jerry's wildest dreams.

The pair's dedication to making high-quality, small-batch, flavor-forward ice creams began with an ice cream maker and a friendly challenge to see who could make a better batch. What began as a lark, grew into an obsession. Soon, Powers and Solberg were staying up late, poring over flavors and cultivating a legion of rabid fans. As they continue to test and retest each flavor and texture combination, it's like listening to two vintners developing wine. Flavors bloom, transform as they age, and the two work at drawing out subtle nuances from each ingredient.

The problem for fans of FrozBroz is that these coveted pints have never been available for sale. But with a brick-and-mortar FrozBroz location in the works, that is about to change.

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Joy Summers

The Hot Dish: This space has been a long time in the making for you, hasn't it?
Ben Solberg: Yeah, it's been a year and a half since our fundraiser. It took longer than we thought.

HD: Was it the construction or licensing that held you back?
Erik Powers: Both. I mean, this space was filled with all kinds of weird stuff. Like there was a car engine in the basement...
Ben Solberg: A couple of deer heads.
Erik Powers: They basically had to take it down to the studs.
Erik Powers: It was partially working with the Department of Agriculture, too. Like, talking to three different people got us three different answers. It took a long time to figure out whether or not we had to do pasteurization. Right now, we aren't, but probably will in the future.

HD: Well, it looks pristine now, all white and chrome. How did this space come to you?
Ben Solberg: It was actually Erica Strait from Foxy Falafel. She mentioned it at a party that Molly McNeil held out at the Minnesota Peach farm. Erica was saying her friend had this commercial kitchen space and she was looking for more space for her business. She was thinking she'd like to maybe do a truck. Then all of a sudden, she had a truck and a restaurant and was just off and running.

HD: So, when can we buy our ice cream?
Ben Solberg: Mid-January. We're hoping to have pint sales out of the kitchen here, probably Thursday evenings and Saturdays. Prices will vary, but likely around $10 per pint. We'll also offer our weekly flavors in half-pints. We'll do some special seasonal flavors.

HD: Where do you find the inspiration for your flavors?
Erik Powers: It's a lot about what is in season, in the farmers markets. We're inspired by drinks and other dishes we've had at restaurants.
Ben Solberg: It could even be a song.
Erik Powers: I've never been inspired by a song. What song?
Ben Solberg: Well, I don't know. Um... well, like the Stones! Brown Sugar. That got me thinking about working with...that might not be the best example.

HD: That's pretty literal.
Erik Powers: Or it could be TV -- whatever is going on with the culinary landscape. I was watching Top Chef and someone used fennel pollen, and I thought, 'I want to put fennel pollen in ice cream!' It's the same as any other chef drawing inspiration.

HD: What flavors will you offer?
Ben Solberg: We'll start with five and offer a few other specials. Fennel Pollen, Rosemary Lemon Bar, Brown Butter Cornbread, Triple Chocolate, and Charred vanilla. 
Erik Powers: We smoke the vanilla, the pods expand to about twice their size.

HD: Other than getting up and running, what else are you two planning?
Ben Solberg: We'll be doing flavor syrups, like with Neato's truck. Depending on whether we do pasturizing, we'll see where we end up. Our goal is to go full retail, selling scoops and everything. We're also going to do like a CSA.
Erik Powers: A CSI. [Community Supported Ice Cream]
Ben Solberg: Yes, a CSI where people can buy in for seasonal, special batch flavors. Those will likely be offered in 3- or 6-month stints. Pints can be picked up here.

Froz Broz Craft Ice Cream, website
3722 Chicago Ave S., Minneapolis

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