One of the most difficult products to create vegan is ice cream. All of the alternatives can’t match the creaminess and taste of ice cream made with the traditional base ingredient — milk.
Though, Amy Ramm, self-coined the “Mistress of Delicious,” found the best substitute in coconut milk. With a little encouragement from her sister, and some experimentation, Ramm founded vegan ice cream company NadaMoo! in 2004.
Ramm had the chance to speak with me about NadaMoo!, her favorite ice cream flavor and the future of her company.
Austin Appetite: What was the inspiration behind starting an ice cream company that is all natural, organic and dairy free?
Amy Ramm: I started out in traditional baking and pastry arts, but gravitated towards cooking natural foods and healthy alternative diets when my sister Katy had to change her diet for health reasons. The more I learned and experienced, the more passionate I became about creating great-tasting healthy foods.
AA: How do you create the flavors?
AM: I love to experiment in the kitchen and I get a lot of inspiration from going to places like the Daily Juice and seeing what’s new & popular on their menu. Those guys are so creative and adventuresome!
AA: What is your favorite flavor?
AM: A good vanilla will always satisfy me, and our vanilla is exceptional — the vanilla system we use makes me ooooh and ahhhhh every time.
AA: What is the trick to mixing coconut milk, brown rice and agave nectar together to make ice cream?
AM: When it comes to making ingredient substitutions, it really helps to understand the properties of the ingredients you are replacing. In ice cream, for example, the saturated fat in the cream gives a melt-in-your-mouth experience you won’t necessarily get with unsaturated fat, so coconut milk as a perfect alternative.
AA: Other than being catchy, is there a story behind the title NadaMoo!?
AM: It was a stroke inspiration one of our early investors had one night. We were under a very tight deadline to get pints to the grand opening of the Whole Foods Lamar store by March 4 of 2005 and we were struggling to find a name. David called me up one morning and said, “Sit down, because this is it and it’s going to be big: it’s called NadaMoo!” and I loved it!
AA: You seem to be getting a lot of great feedback from your company now, was it like this in the beginning too?
AM: NadaMoo! has always had that special something about it, right from the very first batch I made in May of 2004. But starting a food company from scratch is very risky and the work is all-consuming, whether you succeed or not. On top of that, if you do make it, it can take a long time to pay off. I am so happy NadaMoo! survived the early years, when every day was either a marathon or a rollercoaster — or both! I can’t count the number of times I was ready to give up and then got a love letter from a customer or an order from a store or a pep talk from a friend and everything turned around. The company’s current condition is due to all the wonderful, generous, supportive people who have helped out along the way and the great team I work with. We’re having a lot of fun now.
AA: What do you plan on doing in the future with NadaMoo!?
AM: We’ll be growing; adding new people, stores and sales channels, like restaurants, cafeterias, hospitality and other places where people can buy NadaMoo! by the scoop or in a dessert. I have some new flavors in mind, too, and it is always fun for me to be back in the kitchen. We’re doing bigger events, like SXSW and ACL Fest, and we’re starting to take on causes that matter our customers and us, bringing some smiles and fun to people’s lives and also making a difference. The national conversation taking place around health and diet — particularly for children — is a good opportunity for NadaMoo! to show that healthy eating can include a creamy-dreamy frozen dessert!
AA: Is there anything about NadaMoo! that you would like to say?
AM: I’d like to say “Thank you” to Austin for being such a great hometown and to all our incredible customers and fans who have supported NadaMoo! since that first summer in 2004.