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Ice Cream Sandwich Food Truck Coming to Orlando: Midnight Sun



By Mark Baratelli
Owner
Staff Page


Orlando is getting a brand new ice cream sandwich food truck called Midnight Sun Ice Cream Sandwich Co. (Website | Twitter). The owners, Levi and Jocelyn, both come from restaurant backgrounds. Levi is responsible for the ice cream sandwich making, while Jocelyn handles front of house. Read our email interview with them below. 

How did Midnight Sun Ice Cream Sandwich Co. come about?
Levi: I met my wife and partner, Jocelyn, around ten years ago in Gainesville. We were both working in fine-dining restaurants at the time. We moved to Jacksonville Beach shortly afterward and both wound up working at Restaurant Medure in Ponte Vedra. I’d been sweating it out on the hot line as a grill and sauté cook, when one day the chef called me into his office and told me the pastry chef had quit the previous night. I had no professional experience with desserts, but he told me that he knew I’d be good at it. I was frankly unconvinced and not happy about being pulled off of the hot line. Young cooks have developing egos, and I felt like desserts had nothing to do with what I wanted to accomplish in cooking. 


But the chef showed me the logic of learning about pastry cooking, pointing out that it would set me apart from other chefs at some point. He also gave me a small raise, which certainly helped me see his point. It’s really proven to be true, though. Jocelyn and I ended up moving to San Diego eventually, where she managed an excellent Italian restaurant called Barbarella. I worked as lead cook at Blanca in Solana Beach, eventually becoming the head chef. 


We always had the goal of eventually opening our own restaurant. We knew that with Jocelyn’s skills at keeping the front of the house running smoothly and making the guests comfortable, and with my experience in the kitchen, we would have a good advantage. Several years ago, we moved back to Florida with this goal in mind, only to realize that our timing couldn’t have been worse. The national economic situation was, of course, pretty dismal. 

We were aware of the food truck scene and loved the concept. We were also big fans of what chefs like David Chang had pioneered in New York, which was to take refined cooking from off its pedestal and to make it approachable and relevant to people. The point was that excellent cooking didn’t always have to be served on starched white tablecloths covered with expensive tableware. Food trucks are like the antithesis of fine dining, in a sense. Instead of putting on the ritz and waiting to see who can afford your food, you change the setting and bring the same quality to the people, where they live. It allows you to cut out a lot of the fluff and unnecessary expense of maintaining the pretense of haute cuisine. 


What makes your ice cream sandwiches different from others?


Levi: It sounds funny to me when I tell people what we’re making with Midnight Sun. It was just a random idea that I had one night, pretty much brought about by the fact that I’ve been a life-long ice cream fan. It’s like that Far Side cartoon where the gorilla says to the other gorilla, “You know, I really love bananas. Heck, we all do. But for me it goes deeper.” That’s how I’ve always felt about ice cream, since the time I was young. My family is serious when it comes to ice cream. My dad used to bring home the gallon tubs of ice cream and we would just destroy it. I mean, gone, in one sitting. 

So when we started thinking about doing ice cream sandwiches, I realized that there is really no limit to what you can do with the concept. The first thing, of course, is to get rid of the frozen-going-on-soggy cookies and cheap ice cream. A simple scoop of vanilla ice cream is a wonderful thing when it’s properly made with real, quality ingredients. We use organic milk, high quality butter, local eggs, and the best of whatever else we can find. We are always trying to improve our ingredients, even though it costs us a bit more. 

Of course, the possible flavor combinations are endless, too. So when I get bored with a  flavor…boom, it’s gone and I get to move on to something else. We get inspiration for our flavors from wherever it comes. Like, the other day I found some awesome peaches and thought, “What goes with peaches?” Well, brown butter combined with peaches is insane….so good. A few hours later I had made Brown Butter Ice Cream with Summer Peach Swirl. We’ll be serving that one this weekend. I made a cantaloupe ice cream a couple of weeks ago, mostly just to see if it could be done. I assure you that it can, and it’s delicious with lime-ginger cookies. 

We make all our own ice cream, and we don’t leave it in the freezer more than a couple of days. 


It’s surprising how much better freshly made ice cream can be. We also bake the cookies just hours before we drive the truck out. These things, and the fact that we scoop the ice cream to order onto the fresh (not frozen) cookies, are the big differences in our ice cream sandwiches. Also, we have some straightforward flavors, like Roasted Strawberry on Double Chocolate Cookies, for example, but we will have flavors you might not have seen before, like the Bay Laurel with Salted Caramel on Cashew Cookies, or Coffee-Mascarpone on Chocolate Macarons. I have culinary ADD, so that helps.

What does the name Midnight Sun mean?

Levi: I was born and partially raised in Alaska, land of the midnight sun, as it’s called. My parents homesteaded and built a cabin, miles from the nearest train tracks. I was born in the log cabin that my dad built out there and I actually never saw electric lighting the first year of my life. It’s a funnybecause-it’s-true joke that people in Alaska eat more ice cream per capita that anyone else. You can prove that by me, for sure. I never eat half a pint of Ben and Jerry’s. The whole thing goes down in one sitting, no fooling. So our name is a sort of homage to that upbringing and a place in the world that we love.

Where can people find your truck?


Levi: We are currently trying to answer that question ourselves. We are at the Casselberry  Farmers Market on Sundays and will be trying to wriggle our way into neighborhoods like Winter Park and College Park. Many of the food truck venues have big waiting lists, so we are trying to think outside of that paradigm, too. We are on Twitter and have a feed to that on our website, midnightsunicecream.com, so that people will know where to find us. The challenge of making ourselves accessible to people is the flip side of not being in a permanent location. We will get there.
IKEA Family

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