North Liberty frozen custard maker needs plant to satisfy demand

Currently operation includes packing in Illinois and storage in Des Moines

George Ford
Published: February 28 2014 | 7:00 am - Updated: 29 March 2014 | 4:15 am in

David Gott will be the first to tell you that he had no intention of starting an ice cream company.

"If I had set out to do it, I probably would have been bankrupt several times by now," said Gott,  a stock broker by profession who is the founder and driving force behind Gott Ice Cream? in North Liberty.

Over the years, Gott enjoyed making ice cream and frozen custard for friends and family. Frozen custard is ice cream with 1.4 percent egg yolk solids and Gott's gourmet frozen custard has 4 percent egg yolk solids.

Gott credits chance encounters with people in the food industry for the launch of David's Famous Gourmet Frozen Custard, which is sold at a growing number of Fareway and Hy-Vee stores.

"I was in New York for due diligence on a real estate sale," Gott said. "I was making small talk with maybe the number two or three guy in the company over dinner and he orders ice cream for dessert. He eats ice cream every day and told me that Graeters in Cincinnati makes the best ice cream.

"I told him that I make ice cream, and I'll send him some samples. I send him samples of several different flavors and everyone in his office loves it," he said.

The CEO even called him the following week to ask Gott to send some frozen custard for a family dinner.

Guests at the dinner included the retired vice president of marketing for Haagen-Dazs and the owner of the largest catering business in midtown Manhattan.

"Last year at Thanksgiving, the CEO calls me and asks if I can come up with lemon ice cream," Gott said. "The retired vice president of Haagen-Dazs is hosting Christmas dinner and one of the guests, the northeast regional manager for Trader Joe's, likes lemon ice cream."

At that point, Gott decided he should probably get serious about commercially producing frozen custard. He quickly learned that his homemade recipe containing whole eggs would need to be tweaked.

"You cannot put egg whites through legal pasteurization because the proteins coagulate, turn it into pudding, and it will not pump," Gott said. "We substituted skim milk and it worked. That's when I started scrambling around to find a producer."

The University of Minnesota has a pilot ice cream plant capable of producing 100-gallon batches of  David's Famous Gourmet Frozen Custard, which has more than 25 percent fat. No other ice cream plant in the region can handle the high fat content.

Pints of David's Famous Gourmet Frozen Custard are packed at Crest Foods in Ashton, Ill., and stored in a Des Moines cold storage warehouse. With 29 of 30 grocery stores wanting to sell his product, Gott said he and an investor need to decide whether to build a plant to ramp up production to supply more stores.

"I really needed a plant yesterday," Gott said. "It's a great problem to have."

Gott said his ultimate goal is capturing 1 percent of the market and having fun in the process.

"I really enjoy watching people taking that first bite," he said. "The look on their face when they taste it is pure enjoyment."

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