Nashville Hot Chicken Ice Cream is a Thing

Q&A with Lokelani Alabanza

Executive Pastry Chef of Hattie Jane's Creamery in Murfreesboro and Columbia, Tennessee


[Nashville Hot Chicken] took the longest to R&D and was worth the wait.

Describe Hattie Jane's Creamery.

We are a place of inspired ice cream. The aesthetic is modern Southern with a touch of nostalgia; the atmosphere is warm and inviting. We respect the institution of ice cream, yet we also believe in pushing the boundaries and encouraging people to try new things without overwhelming them. Plus, our brownies are fire.


What is your earliest ice cream memory?

A double scoop of Chocolate Malted Crunch in a cake cone from Thrifty ice cream. The cone was always wrapped in a small square of delicate deli paper.  


What is your most popular flavor?

Nana Puddin'. It most definitely evokes nostalgia.


What is your favorite flavor?

Rosewater, always. It reminds me of Mashti Malone's in Los Angeles.


What is the most unique flavor you’ve ever offered?

Nashville Hot Chicken. It took the longest to R&D and was worth the wait.


Is there a flavor you loved but that didn’t find an audience?

Faloodeh. It was inspired by a Persian noodle dessert, and was made with vermicelli noodles, saffron, pistachios, and rosewater. I loved this flavor, but not everyone was a fan of the vermicelli noodles.


What inspires you and why?

It's always so random. For instance, a few days ago I was at King Market, this awesome Lao-Thai restaurant/market in Nashville, and I found myself wandering in the dessert aisle. I left with a few ingredients I have never seen or worked with before—things like coco caramel, jasmine extract, and pandan extract.


How did you get into the ice cream business?

A few years ago, I became the executive pastry chef for Homestead Manor, a concept within A. Marshall Hospitality. About a week into the position, I was asked to open the group’s newest concept at the time, which was Hattie Jane's Creamery. We had about three weeks to get everything in place—there was so much to learn and so quickly, so it was a lot of trial and error. There were times when I felt like an imposter, but now it’s hard to believe that it's already been two years.


How did you learn to make ice cream?

I learned from two deeply passionate women during my early days in Los Angeles. The first was my mentor, Pastry Chef Elizabeth Belkind, during her time at Grace. The second was Pastry Chef Dahlia Narvaez during her time at Campanile. I worked for them both at the same time—it was the best possible education.


What is the secret to scooping ice cream?

Water! Everyone always forgets to use the dipper well. Trust me, it helps.


Cup or cone?

A scoop in a cup with a cake cone on top.


What is your topping of choice?

Hattie Jane’s Creamery’s double fudge.


Best advice you can share for those who want to get into the ice cream biz?

Warranty is key. Double check that you closed the pint coolers. Sometimes the walk-in freezer will fail you. Sometimes a machine will break unexpectedly. You may overspin a batch. It may set you back, but you can always start over. It’s all worth it when you see a patron's look of pure glee while enjoying your product.


Any advice for making ice cream at home?

It's easier than you think—all you need is a great base recipe and ingredients that you want to eat and enjoy. Experiment and let yourself be inspired by your favorite creamery or ice cream memory. And, I do believe in tabletop ice cream makers—a 1 or 1.5 quart machine is great, just remember to pre-freeze the bowl overnight.



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