Even before he took over as executive chef at Salt of the Earth, Chad Townsend had his mind on some pretty big plans.
Townsend, who spent two years as the chef de cuisine at Kevin Sousa’s popular Garfield restaurant, took over the kitchen’s top spot when Sousa left in February to devote more time to his Braddock farm-to-table restaurant, Superior Motors. But Townsend wasn’t long for Salt. He left in July after just five months at the helm.
“I was looking at doing something even before Kevin left, so I stopped thinking that Salt was going to be my future. It was very closely attached to him, and I really wanted to develop my own thing,” Townsend says. “I have a lot of stuff floating around in my head, and part of leaving salt was giving myself time to get my head together.”
While he works on the preliminary aspects of opening a new restaurant, Townsend is keeping busy this summer with a new venture, Millie’s Homemade Ice Cream, as we reported last week. The idea to start making ice cream arose in the spring.
“There was a night I’d gotten out of work pretty early and my wife and I decided to go out for ice cream,” he says. “But the place we went to was just serving Hershey’s ice cream, and I can buy that at a gas station, so we said, ‘let’s go find places that make their own ice cream.’”
It proved a bigger challenge than he anticipated.
“It’s horribly sad that we have such a great city developing this wonderful food scene and we only have one or two people who are making their own ice cream, so I decided I was going to do it.”
After seeking out the ideal, locally sourced ingredients—he uses mostly Amish eggs, and cream from the Snowville Creamery in Pomeroy, Ohio—he started working on recipes and toying with different flavors.
Townsend started selling his homemade ice cream at The Livermore on Friday nights earlier this month. He aims to field a weekly lineup which aims to field one or two takes on traditional flavors like chocolate-hazelnut, Dulce de Leche and peach, as well as a few more interesting concoctions, many of which are variations on Townsend’s favorite flavor, vanilla.
“We’ve had a lot of success with lemon verbena,” he says, referring to a concoction he concoction he whipped up using the leafy green herb which boasts a fresh lemon scent. “For next week, I’m going to do a banana yellow curry. It’s just something people aren’t used to.”
Flavors like coconut, apple cider and Litchi Tomato are currently in the queue, as are a variety of sorbets for the vegan and lactose intolerant sweet tooth. He’s planning on producing a raw squash sorbet and will be making a cucumber sumac sorbet to pair with the Brew Gentlemen’s Cucumber Wheat beer at next month’s Steel City Big Pour.
Even after summer’s gone, Townsend is hoping to keep distributing his hand-crafted ice cream. He’s working on developing a process for an ice cream CSA.
“You’d come to a location and pick up a pint every other week,” he says. “We want to get that going for the cold months when people aren’t going to be eating ice cream outside.”