The Ice Cream Maker: Geri Czako

December 1, 2012

Once upon a time in warm sunny California there was a girl named Geri. Geri met Mike and they got married. Geri became pregnant and had a craving for really good organic ice cream. She decided to make her own. Mike helped. Then, two deliciously magical things happened, and they are both called Sweet Lucie.

I. Love. This. Story…



where are you from where do you live now?
I was born and raised in Northern California and live in LA now.

how did you get into ice cream?
I’ve always had friends that preached about the benefits of eating organic, but it never really hit home until I was pregnant and became very aware of how growth hormones, pesticides, and artificial ingredients would affect my growing baby.
During that time, I was, of course, craving a ton of ice cream, so I knew that it had to be organic. I started making it at home so that I knew exactly what was going into it, and it tasted great. My husband, Mike, and I talked about a void in the marketplace that we could fill, but we’d need to get on it because someone would surely take the idea if we didn’t.

what did you want to be when you were a kid?
I wanted to be many things: a teacher because that’s all I really knew about when I was in elementary school, a nurse because my mom was one, an accountant because I wanted to use a cash register (I didn’t really understand what they did), an architect (because I liked to re-design my room each week! I wished that I could add architectural details like an indoor playhouse that my bed could sit on top of or build an indoor spa into my room — it was the 80’s!).

what were you doing ten years ago?
I just graduated from USC and moved to West LA with my college roomie, Judy.

what do you hope to be doing in another five years?
I would hope to be owning a very successful ice cream company.

how do you preserve and avoid using artificial ingredients?
The chemicals and preservatives give the ice cream a longer shelf life and give it the “desired” texture and look, but at a lower cost to the producer. For example, using real sugar costs a lot more money than using high fructose corn syrup which is much sweeter at a smaller quantity. Our preservation method is a trade secret.

what is your inspiration for new flavors? how long does it take to master a recipe?
My inspiration comes from everywhere from where I eat, to what books I read, to what shows/movies I see, and what blogs I happen to view. Mastering a recipe depends on many criteria, not just the ingredients involved, but what temperatures to combine ingredients, what order to combine ingredients, and how long to freeze the final mixture in the batch freezer (commercial ice cream maker).

i am a warm gooey chocolate freak.  will you make me a treat? 
Using our current menu, I’d put a scoop of our rich, dark, fair trade organic chocolate ice cream and add crushed cookies, chocolate shavings, fresh handmade whipped cream, add our warm creamy peanut butter sauce, and smother it all with our warm chocolate ganache, topped with chopped peanuts—-all organic, of course!

will you give us a tip for making really good homemade ice cream?
It all starts with the ingredients you put into the ice cream. You can’t make a great ice cream with not so good ingredients which is an obvious tip. Another not so obvious tip it to put the freshly made ice cream into an airtight container (place a saran wrap tightly over the container and make sure the cover is securely on), and store the container in the farthest back of the freezer possible to bring the ice cream temperature down as fast as possible. This will help reduce ice crystals which will make your ice cream more flavorful per bite.

you need a break from the ice cream world. what will you do? the sky is the limit.
I would study abroad for fun with my family (and not care about the grade). I’d study architecture and culture in as many countries as possible.

what are your favorite local restaurants? will you order ice cream for dessert?
My favorite local restaurant is Katsu. It’s a small sushi place in Manhattan Beach that Mike and I frequented when we were first dating (and when it first opened as Kina). I love the fresh food, the cozy laid back beach atmosphere, and fantastic beach view. I once in a while order green tea ice cream for dessert. I usually order a dessert that has ice cream as a component from high end restaurants.

what are your dreams for lucie?
I want Lucie to always be as happy and carefree as she is now, to always be loved as much as we love her, and to make a significant positive impact on the world.

what do you collect?
Lucie’s artwork. And, there’s a ton already!

Photos by He and She Photography.  Visit I Love Lucie’s to learn more about Sweet Lucie’s ice cream!