New York Magazine
Big Gay News: Ice Cream Cookbook, Salty Pimp Cupcake
August 13, 2012
Big Gay Ice Cream and Robicelli's Cupcakes write in to say they've teamed up on possibly the most gonzo mini-cake this town has seen: the Salty Pimp. Taking a cue from the scoopery's popular cone, this cupcake layers vanilla cake around dulce de leche pudding, topping it with dulce de leche buttercream frosting encased in fudge — which, despite our general cupcake ennui, sounds worth every diabetes-risking bite. It's sold exclusively at the Big Gay Ice Cream Shop. And that's not all: We hear the ice cream guys have a book deal in the works, possibly with Clarkson Potter (the imprint behind Mile End, Momofuku, and Dirt Candy's cookbooks). Also, mark your calendars for the Big Gay shop's one-year anniversary on September 3, featuring all the ice cream and all the drag queens (and kings) East 7th Street can hold.
Zagat Food Lover's Guide 2012/13
Known for its out-and-proud mobile unit ("keep on truckin'") dispensing "gourmet soft-serve ice cream" extraordinaire, this roving favorite put down roots post-Survey with an already-mobbed East Village storefront, where its conventional flavors (vanilla and chocolate) get accessorized with "exquisite toppings" from wasabi pea-dust to cayenne pepper; the combos come with "equally appealing" "gay"-insider names (the Bea Arthur, Salty Pimp), and service is "super-friendly", making for one "special cone indeed" - "this is why we live in NY."
Dessert Professional's Top Ten Frozen Dessert Retailers of America 2012
With this feature, the editors of Dessert Professional magazine are proud to honor the Top Ten Frozen Dessert Retailers of America 2012. This award is presented to businesses that offer exceptional frozen desserts served in a unique, memorable environment, including walk-in shops, stands, and even trucks. The enjoyment of a frozen dessert, whether it’s ice cream, gelato, frozen pops or custard, is a special experience that involves more than just the product. Frozen desserts are best eaten when they are served, so the shop’s ambiance and service are almost as important as the product itself. We have taken this into account in choosing our list of ten.
This year’s honorees include six ice cream shops (one of which specializes in organic ice cream combined with homemade cookie dough), two gelato shops, one slushie truck (forget everything you thought you knew about slushies), and one shop that serves vanilla frozen custard, it all its glorious permutations. Some companies are large, some tiny, but all are devoted to making exceptional frozen desserts, and serving them with pride.
We also include a Q&A with our honoree for the 2012 Frozen Dessert Retailers Hall of Fame, Andrew Seabury of GTI Designs. GTI is a consulting and design service for food service operations, and Andrew has worked with some of the best-known ice cream and gelato retailers in the world.
Congratulations to this year’s Top Ten retailers and our Hall of Fame honoree.
Business profile: Our menu combines traditional soft-serve ice cream with non-traditional toppings, such as wasabi pea dust, olive oil and sea salt, dulce de leche and many other rotating offerings. All of this is dispensed the way ice cream should be – with humor and good cheer.
How it all began: It was all a fluke. A few years ago, Doug was on the hunt for a strange summer job that kept him in NYC. He is a classical musician and was tired of traveling for work. He found an ice cream truck to borrow, because it seemed like one of the weirdest options available, and thus the Big Gay Ice Cream Truck was born. I was working in corporate training/meeting and event planning, and relished the idea of planning out the truck’s modernized menu. Maybe it was some sort of mid-life crisis? Most guys get a convertible; we got a beat-up ol’ ice cream truck. Things got weirder with the shop when we got a bigger kitchen and giant unicorn mural.
What you’re trying to do differently: The company began as a rented ice cream truck in July 2009 that we christened the Big Gay Ice Cream Truck. The original philosophy when we started our truck was to be different than all the other NYC ice cream trucks. Mainly 1) offer a fun experience with great customer service and 2) modernize the soft-serve truck menu. Ice cream trucks in NYC have had the same menu in place for decades and we thought it was a once in lifetime opportunity to update things our own way.
Number of flavors: Under 10 actual ice cream flavors. Keeping with the soft- serve truck ethos, we stick with vanilla and chocolate. From there it’s about what we do on top of the ice cream with different toppings and sauces and combinations. Now that we have a shop we have been creating some daily flavors, such as coffee, peppermint, and brownie batter. We made beet too, but we were the only ones that ate it. We loved it! Most popular flavor: The Salty Pimp is our most popular item. It’s a vanilla cone that we coat and inject with dulce de leche, sprinkle on sea salt, and then dip into chocolate. We have sold about twenty times more Pimps than our next biggest seller.
Favorite ingredients: Salt – we both love sweet/salty combinations. Mexican chilies for heat and smokiness. Biscoff spread is pretty addictive. Beets. Brownies. A great sweet cream base is a perfect blank slate. Pistachios. Kumquats. Cinnamon. Ginger. Bourbon and tequila. (Oh wait, we were talking ingredients?!)
Favorite flavor to eat: For me, it’s our shakes. It’s such a classic treat and deceptively simple. So few ingredients and easy to mess up. My current favorites are Horchata, ginger-curry, and chai. For Doug, it’s probably our brownie better soft serve. We aim for it to be as close to licking the bowl as possible. Funfetti optional.
Favorite flavor to serve: We both love making the American Globs since it’s the most interactive item we make. It’s fun to run and squish the ice cream around in crushed pretzels before dipping it the whole thing in chocolate. I guess you could call it our “Coldstone moment” – without the horrible tip song. Plus customers love watching it get made.
How often do you change flavors? We always offer the basics and then try to have special flavors, seasonal sundaes, and specialty shakes as often as we can. That balance of menu staples plus new items and specials can be tricky. We want to ensure people can come in and get their favorites (or for first timers, what they’ve seen on t.v. or read about), but then we also want to keep people tuned in to new things we are excited about – which also keeps our most frequent customers engaged in the business.
Weirdest flavor you ever made: Two items come to mind right away: 1) Choinkwich, which is an ice cream sandwich with chocolate ice cream and a layer of bacon marmalade between two chocolate cookies, and 2) Nuclear Winter, a sundae we do as an occasional special: chocolate ice cream, red chili roasted pistachios, sriracha, and Awesomesauce (our spicy hot fudge) – which we serve with a pickle, of course.
Did you serve it to customers? Of course! We have pretty adventuresome customers and they’d probably be upset if we didn’t.
How much product do you eat per week? Have you seen our waistlines?! Too much!
Signature products: We have a number of signature cones and sundaes that have become mainstays on our menu over the years. In addition to the Salty Pimp, we have the Bea Arthur (a cone with Nilla wafers and dulce de leche), Mermaid (a sundae with key lime curd and graham crackers), American Globs (a cone we did for the writer Neil Gaiman with crushed pretzels, sea salt, and chocolate dip), our Gobbler sundaes (fruit butters with crushed pie crust and other sauces, such as bourbon-butterscotch or rich Grade B maple syrup).
Display case: Actually, we don’t have any display cases in our shop — but we do have a life-size unicorn mural on our wall that’s bedazzled with over 6000 Swarovski crystals.
Best compliment you ever got about your ice cream? Andrew Zimmern said that our Salty Pimp was a “cone you wanted to be alone with.” We can’t think of a better compliment than that!
Best part of the business: The ice cream, naturally – and being able to have fun and put out the type of product we love. After twenty years of working for other people, we are having a blast running our own business.
If you weren’t making frozen desserts, what would you be doing? Doug would be traveling to Mexico with a band of theremin-wielding gypsies. I’d still be in a midtown office being driven crazy by my coworkers and the guy down on Seventh Avenue doing saxophone solos all day long.
Motto: There’s no food more fun than ice cream, and this is our idea of fun.
What’s next: Hopefully a few more shops, probably a book, and definitely more adventures in ice cream!
Our Favorite NYC Videos of 2011
December 28, 2011
Keep on Truckin': We talked to the duo behind the Big Gay Ice Cream truck/shop, and they schooled us on how to make their Bea Arthur treat.
The Local: East Village
in collaboration with The New York Times
December 28, 2011
Big Gay Ice Cream Shop’s Owners Take a Break, But Not From Each Other
By Nadja Popovich & Claire Ward
December 27, 2011
Last Friday, the Big Gay Ice Cream Shop closed for the holiday season. Co-owners Doug Quint and Bryan Petroff are taking a break from the shop until it reopens Jan. 2, but the business partners won’t be taking a break from each other: the sultans of soft-serve have been a couple for six years.
Mr. Quint, who previously played the bassoon in various orchestras, said they stumbled into the ice cream business by accident. In 2008, he jumped on an opportunity to rent a used ice-cream truck through a friend.
“I was keeping my ears and eyes open for weird things to do,” he said. Mr. Petroff hopped on board both with moral support and by helping serve ice cream nights after work.
After two years on the truck and countless ice cream cones, the duo decided it was either time to find something new or expand. To their fans’ delight, they decided to open the Big Gay Ice Cream Shop this past September.
The shop has proved so popular that even on a recent December afternoon, it was packed with customers such as Kristen, who took a bite of a specialty cone and said, “Oh, it’s amazing. Sweet and salty — vanilla and pretzel. It’s a wonderful combination.”
Mr. Petroff and Mr. Quint admitted they were unsure what working together would do to their relationship. “I do know other couples who own a business together and I always wonder...” said Mr. Petroff, before Mr. Quint finished his sentence: “How do they not kill each other?”
So far, the road has been relatively bump-free.
“We’re not curing cancer,” said Mr. Petroff, “we’re just having fun, and that has to always be at the forefront of what we do.”
“Just smile and sell ice cream, you could have much worse stuff to do in your life,” added Mr. Quint.
For more on how the couple met and how they keep it together, see The Local’s video.
NYC's Best New Restaurants of 2011
December 27, 2011
Pencils down, forks up. The voting for 2011's best restaurant openings has ended. Below, the results.
Best Reason to Synchronize with Accompanying Dance Moves for Ice Cream: Big Gay Ice Cream
The Sunday Times of London
Meals on Wheels in the USA
Doug, the owner of Manhattan’s campiest old-school ice cream van, used to be a bassoonist. Then, with his partner, Bryan, he discovered the joys of Salty Pimp (vanilla soft serve covered with dulce de leche, chocolate and sea salt) and less conventional toppings such as curried coconut and wasabi pea dust. They serve them up to the East Village hipsters in Union Square.
Follow that truck: Open on warm days, spring to autumn, on the corner of Broadway and 17th Street, but check www.twitter.com/biggayicecream. A year-round offshoot has opened at 125 East 7th Street.
AM New York
Hot List / Eating & Drinking
October 19, 2011
Food truck turned brick-and-mortar store: Big Gay Ice Cream Shop
Though we love its sweet treats, our only grip with the Big Gay Ice Cream Truck is that in order to enjoy its clever concoctions like the Bea Arthur (vanilla ice cream, dulce de leche and crushed Nilla wafers), you have to be willing to wait upwards of 40 minutes to get it... and the truck only operates through the fall. Luckily, the new brick-and-mortar shop in the East Village has answered our prayers so we can get our fix way past ice cream season.
New York Magazine
October 3, 2011
Fall Flavor: 41 Things We're Psyched to Eat (and Drink) This Season: The 'Mexican Affogayto'
The brick-and-mortar outpost of the unfathomably popular Big Gay Ice Cream Truck opened pretty late in summer — Labor Day weekend, in fact. So it’s a good thing they’re planning warm options, like this hilariously named mixture of hot chocolate, ice cream, whipped cream, chocolate, and chiles.
AM New York
A Day with the Sultan of Soft Serve
August 2, 2011
In the world of ice cream, Doug Quint is a rock star. The heavily tattooed man behind The Big Gay Ice Cream Truck has a cult-like following (the business has more than 21,000 followers on Twitter and nearly 8,000 fans on Facebook), and people line up around the block to meet him (and to try his ice cream, too). Quint, a 39-year-old professional bassoonist runs the Big Gay Ice Cream Truck with his partner (in life and in business), Bryan Petroff. It started out two years ago as a fun idea for a summer job, but has become so popular that the two will also open the Big Gay Ice Cream Shop on Seventh Street, between First Avenue and Avenue A, later this month.
“One of the reasons we wanted to have a store was to give people another way to get this ice cream — a lot of locals wouldn’t wait on this line,” Quint said. The truck’s big draw isn’t the ice cream — it’s standard vanilla and chocolate soft-serve — but the specialty concoctions. There’s the Salty Pimp, a cone of vanilla with sea salt and dulce de leche in a chocolate dip ($5), and the Monday Sundae — a waffle cone lined with Nutella, filled with ice cream and dulce de leche, sea salt and whipped cream ($6). Cones even come lined with spicy peanut butter.
Here’s just one day in the life of one unusual — and hardworking — ice cream man.
1. First stop: Truck depot.
Quint and Petroff own the Big Gay Ice Cream business, but not the truck. Quint heads to a truck depot in Hunts Point around 10 a.m., where he cleans and stocks the rental (which looks just like a regular Mister Softee-style truck) for about an hour and gets gas (about $100 for a tank). Quint buys most of his ingredients, such as the wasabi peas and curry powder he uses as toppings, at the Fairway in Harlem on weekends.
2. Cruising down Second Avenue.
Quint drives down Second Avenue from the Bronx to his Union Square location. It’s a bumpy ride, but he takes it in stride, waving back at many of the onlookers who wave at him.
3. Pit stop at the store.
On the afternoon we tagged along, Quint stopped at his soon-to-open store to pick up more Nutella. While there, he chatted with his partner and the store’s manager, Jake, who will be the face of the shop much the way Quint is the face of the truck.
4. Holy lines!
As we pulled up to the northwest corner of Union Square, we could make out a line of about half a dozen people already formed. And by the time the truck officially opened for business 20 minutes later, the line was 30 deep.
5. A quick bite… and some Diet Coke.
Quint is slammed with customers from the moment he opens (around 2:30 p.m. every weekday) until closing (around 8:30 p.m.). He scarfed down a Pret-a-Manger tuna sandwich and some Diet Coke and was ready to open. “OK, everyone, be nice!” he called out to the growing line of people. “And don’t cut.”
6. Mr. Personality.
While he serves ice cream, Quint bops to music from his iPhone. A people person in the truest sense, he’s jovial and funny — and the customers eat it up. His infectious attitude seems to rub off on them, too. Can you imagine a line of 30 hungry people in New York with zero cutting or arguing? It happens here.
7. Yes, there are occupational hazards.
Interestingly, Quint has developed carpal tunnel syndrome from serving ice cream all day. He’s also constantly facing mechanical challenges — our original ride-along was rescheduled when the generator couldn’t keep up with the heat. The A/C tends to go off and on, and during the worst of the heatwave last month he couldn’t get the temperature below 100 degrees. Quint is also concerned that when the recent food-truck crackdown that has swept midtown heads downtown, he’ll face ticketing and orders to relocate. Despite all that, it’s clear the nature of the biz suits him well. Oh, and if you’re wondering whether Quint eats ice cream all day long, the answer is no.
And he’s usually too ice-creamed out to eat it at night.
Photo: Ryan Thatcher
The Village Voice
The Big Gay Ice Cream Shop Promises "Vast" Toppings,
"Big, Bold Flavors" and Maybe a Bea Arthur Minotaur
By Rebecca Marx
May 18, 2011
When the Big Gay Ice Cream Shop opens sometime in June, it will be the brick-and-mortar manifestation not only of the Big Gay Ice Cream Truck but also the way that stars, against all odds, sometimes magically align.
“This is our dream location,” Doug Quint says about his new home at 125 East 7th Street. Over the last year and a half, he and partner Bryan Petroff had had a “few different offers” to turn their soft-serve truck into a storefront, but “it kept coming down to we wanted to be on East 7th Street. Nothing else felt right — we’re downtown. We listen to the Ramones while we work.” And the street’s supportive food community, which includes Porchetta, Luke’s Lobster, and Butter Lane, was an added incentive.
After looking at some potential locations that included the Upper West Side and Fire Island, Quint and Petroff had a fortuitous encounter with Luke Holden, Luke’s Lobster’s co-owner. He told them that Xoom Juice Bar space was up for rent, as Xoom was relocating to a gym.
And so the Big Gay Ice Cream truck became the Big Gay Ice Cream Shop. For the past couple of weeks, Quint and Petroff have been spending all of their spare time ordering equipment, planning the shop’s layout, and replicating the truck logo’s color scheme with the Disney line of paint, which boasts shades with names like “Invitation to a Princess” and “Mickey’s Gloves.” They’re also trying to figure out how to decorate the walls: Petroff, who recently quit his day job in the fashion industry to manage the store, is thinking of something along the lines of a poster for John Waters’ Female Trouble, though earlier this week Quint was mulling the idea of pegasuses and maybe a minotaur with Bea Arthur’s head.
One thing Quit and Petroff are certain of is that the store will allow them to expand their product line. “There’s all sorts of stuff I’ve been making that I can’t do on the truck because of space,” Quint says. “Icy cocoa sauce, dry toppings. I love doing the truck” — which he will continue to drive after the store opens — but there are so many space restrictions. The store had to happen.”
In another happy coincidence, the recipe testing Quint and Petroff are conducting for their 2012 cookbook has given them the opportunity to create hard ice creams that they’ll sell along their soft serve. They’re currently planning in the neighborhood of four flavors, all custard-based, once the summer season is over and they have a chance to scale their recipes up a bit. They’re also planning to carry products from other vendors: the Treats Truck will supply cookies for sundaes and cake cookies for ice cream whoopie pies, while Danny Macaroons will provide its signature wares and Melt Bakery its ice cream sandwiches.
The store will carry two soft serve machines: one will make chocolate and vanilla, while the other will churn out custom flavors. “There’s not anything too terrifying on the menu because we’re not like that,” Quint says. “I don’t like to have flavors that are based on kitsch appeal, nor do I like stuff that’s so subtle it doesn’t taste like anything. We just like big, bold flavors — we really feel that our favorite ice creams are one or two strong notes or combinations. We don’t like packing in candy. Something like olive oil and fig ice cream, or a sundae with sriracha — those are pretty strong but simple flavors that just appeal to our palate.” The topping menu, however, “will be vast,” Quint says.
Early in the Big Gay Ice Cream Truck’s life, Quint was approached to franchise the truck in countries as far away as Malaysia. Having a store, he says, is much more to his liking. “A franchise didn’t seem like the right model,” he says. “There’s so many variables, and it’s entirely dependent on the person who’s working on it. Our favorite truck is the Treats Truck — you can’t have it without Kim [Ima, its owner]. There will be a bigger personality to the store” that will surpass whomever is working behind the counter, he adds. “It’s pretty fucking exciting.”
Food & Wine
Ice Cream Dessert Shortcuts
By Kate Heddings
Top ice cream artisans tell how to transform store-bought pints into great ice cream desserts like terrines, bonbons and pies.
Driving around New York City in a secondhand Mister Softee truck, Douglas Quint and Bryan Petroff of the Big Gay Ice Cream Truck sell treats to customers at the curb. But their fans don’t come for the soft serve itself, which Big Gay buys premade; the fun is in the toppings — olive oil and sea salt, crushed Trix, wasabi-pea dust. As Quint says, “The last place to look for ice cream toppings is a supermarket ice cream aisle.” Inspired, F&W asked America’s most brilliant ice cream artisans for fast ways to transform store-bought ice cream. The results range from a terrine layering ice cream, frozen yogurt and sorbet to chocolate-covered ice cream bonbons sprinkled with salt. And the Big Gay guys share their recipe for an ice cream pie with a fresh blueberry sauce.
Berry Ice Cream Pie
- 1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs (from 12 whole graham crackers)
- 1/3 cup light brown sugar
- 1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted
- 3 pints strawberry ice cream, softened slightly
- 1 cup white balsamic vinegar
- 2 pints blueberries, plus more for serving
1. Preheat the oven to 350°. In a bowl, stir the cracker crumbs, brown sugar and butter until evenly moistened. Press the crumbs into a 9-inch glass pie plate and bake for 10 minutes, until lightly browned. Let cool completely.
2. Meanwhile, line another 9-inch pie plate with plastic wrap and spread with 1 pint of the ice cream. Top with plastic wrap and freeze until firm, 10 minutes. Spread another pint of ice cream on top of the plastic, cover with plastic wrap and freeze. Repeat with a final layer of ice cream and freeze until firm.
3. Meanwhile, in a saucepan, boil the vinegar over moderate heat until reduced to 1/3 cup, about 15 minutes. Add the 2 pints of blueberries and bring to a boil. Simmer over moderately low heat, crushing the berries, until thick and jammy, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and freeze until chilled.
4. Transfer the top layer of flattened ice cream to the crust, spreading it to the edges. Top with half of the blueberry mixture. Repeat with the middle layer of ice cream and the remaining blueberry mixture and top with the final layer of ice cream. Freeze until firm, about 30 minutes. Cut the pie into wedges and serve with fresh blueberries.
Twitter Gangs of New York: The Culinary Crew
Co-founder of Big Gay Ice Cream
All of these test batches of new recipes are making me feel like a Macy’s Thanksgiving parade balloon. Ginger ice cream for breakfast.
Restaurant Editor, Food & Wine
I appreciate that "what’s the ($14) arugula salad" is vague, but didn’t need waitress to say, v slowly, "arugula is a vegetable."
Chef and co-owner of Hearth and Terroir wine bars
I’m at a sushi restaurant in the Rockies named FOXNUT and there is not a Japanese person in sight. Should I be concerned?? I think yes.
Chef & Owner of Craft Restaurants, Colicchio & Sons
Judge, Bravo’s Top Chef
Anyone watch Mildred Pierce last night, Kate did a great job of cutting up chicken.
@kittenwithawhip Spent some time with Wiki entry for 'pleonasm' and have concluded that "avocado guacamole" is no worse than "tuna fish."
Managing Editor, eatocracy.cnn.com
@biggayicecream Ain't no burp like a ramp burp, baby, 'cause the ramp burps just don’t stop.
Road Food: The Best Restaurants on Wheels
By Kiri Tannenbaum
The Big Gay Ice Cream Truck
Signature Item: Choinkwich: chocolate soft-serve and caramelized bacon sandwiched between two chocolate cartwheel cookies.
Concept: Innovative toppings. In the spring of 2009, classically trained bassoonist Doug Quint was contemplating what to do for his summer. It was a friend’s Facebook post that planted the seed for Doug to start a soft-serve truck with ever-changing toppings. Wasabi? Yes. Sea salt and olive oil. Oh, yeah. Trix cereal? Bring it on.
Our favorite creation: The Salty Pimp — creamy vanilla ice cream, dulce de leche, and sea salt, covered with a chocolate magic shell.
Forget Mr. Whippy; Douglas Quint and his pop-up ‘Big Gay Ice Cream Truck’ are a smash hit in New York, where he sells such over-the-top soft-serves as ‘The Bea Arthur’ and ‘The Salty Pimp’. Follow twitter.com/biggayicecream.