My first job in food service was as a barista at Common Grounds Coffee Shop in Waco, TX, while I was working on my Masters of Divinity. I loved learning about the craft of coffee, and was chronically imagining new flavor combinations for specialty drinks. During my first year slinging espresso, the owners decided to also open up an ice cream shop in the building next door.
The shop is a wonderful little place called Heritage Creamery, and it’s where I got my start making ice cream. When I first came on board, we were still working in rented out kitchen space and only selling ice cream at the Waco Downtown Farmer’s Market, waiting for our building to be remodeled with an industrial kitchen. I didn’t know anything about ice cream at the time (except that I loved eating it), but I needed a second job and they needed a dishwasher.
After a few months, I learned the process and gradually began taking on responsibility for making some of the simpler ice creams. As time went on and the business grew, I eventually found myself making almost all of the ice cream. By the time we were ready to open up the brick-and-mortar, I was in charge of ice cream production, and eventually began managing all of the back-of-house production staff and developing all of our new and seasonal recipes.
The guiding ethos for Heritage is to buy and use all local, natural ingredients. Which meant I spent a lot of time learning about dairy production, driving out to local farms, navigating the farmer’s market, and researching the Texas growing seasons to know what produce would be in season for the coming weeks and months. It was in the course of these experiences that I realized how little I knew about food and where it comes from, and developed a passion for educating myself and others about local agriculture and produce.
After about a year and a half with Heritage, which saw us move from storing every bit of equipment we owned in a single cart in a rented out kitchen and selling individually packaged cups at the farmers market, to opening a brick-and-mortar and having a dozen revolving flavors at all times, I stepped away from the ice cream life in order to focus on my studies, but my love for real food and homemade ice cream continued to grow.
After working a campus job for a bit, I got back into food service by serving and bartending at Moroso Wood Fired Pizzeria, a family-owned Waco favorite. While I was working there, I made a big batch of Cinnamon Banana Rum for the owner, which he ended up sharing with the whole staff. Suddenly, everyone was asking if I could make them ice cream; I started taking orders, and making and selling ice cream to friends around town.
Moving and starting grad school, I knew I wouldn’t be able to keep making ice cream for people, but it occurred to me that maybe there was a way to keep sharing the joy of frozen deliciousness (and, perhaps, make a little side income from sponsors and ads). Thus was born “The Ice Cream Theologian”.
From Waco, my wife and I moved to Scotland for me to study at the University of Edinburgh. I did a one-year masters by research in Systematic Theology, focusing primarily on the relationship between psychological suffering and theology.
We now live in Princeton, NJ, where I’m a PhD student in Systematic Theology at Princeton Theological Seminary. My interests are psychological suffering and creation care in theological perspective.