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Erik Bernardi & Jason Wulf: Ice Cream Makers

Get to know a Buffalonian...

Erik Bernardi, right, and Jason Wulf, left, of Lockport, are two teachers (art and biology, respectively) who have created something of a dream sideline job for themselves: Lake Effect Ice Cream. ( Their ice cream is incredibly rich and comes in surprising and deftly executed flavors.

How did a couple of teachers become ice cream makers?

We really wanted to do something unique and different as a summer job, which was also something that we created rather than working for someone else. It is definitely a creative outlet for both of us as well.

What’s the secret to your ice cream? What makes it good?

Unique and well-crafted flavors, using local ingredients when possible and responsibly grown ones when not possible. This, combined with a higher than average butterfat and lower than average air content than traditional ice cream companies, makes our ice cream truly special.

How do you conceive flavors?

We are proud of the fact that our inspiration can come from anywhere and everywhere. Sometimes it’s a local product like using a Niagara Wine Trail offering and turning it into Ruby Chocolate Truffle ice cream, or even listening to Jack Johnson and being inspired to make Banana Pancake ice cream.

Have you ever made (or even just imagined making) a flavor that was just disastrous?

We had some trouble creating an ice cream that we originally wanted to name chocolate chicken wing. No, we didn’t put chicken in it, but we did have a problem with the Frank’s Red Hot not mixing well with the cream. We then changed to Nickel City Heat as our Buffalo-wing-inspired ice cream but still used cayenne to get the heat that we were looking for.

How much ice cream do you produce now? Are you planning to grow? If so, what do you need in order to grow your capacity?

We produce varying amounts. We make about 1,200 pints a month and an additional 60 gallons, and depending on what festivals and charities we are doing an ever-changing amount of eight-ounce containers. We are looking for a kitchen of our own as we currently rent one. In getting our own space we can increase storage and ice cream making time. We expand with the company’s growth, and right now we definitely outgrown our current space.

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