Behind The Apron: Peter Lind (Ben & Jerry’s)

After spotting an ad in the papers looking for a Ben & Jerry’s product developer in 1988, they say everything else is history. This could perhaps sum up the story of Peter Lind’s career at the well-loved ice cream company. Touted as one of the best jobs in America, Peter is part of a five-person team who create the different ice cream flavours for Ben & Jerry’s. In his 25 years working in Ben & Jerry’s R&D laboratory, Peter has introduced various flavors such as Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, Chocolate Fudge Brownie, Rainforest Crunch, Coconut Almond Fudge, Cherry Garcia Frozen Yogurt and Purple Passion Fruit Sorbet.

We speak to Peter on all things ice cream.

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Did your love for ice cream begin as a child?

I would visit my grandmother who had bought a place by a lake and we didn’t have good water so I had to go next door with water jugs to get good water. On Sundays, our next door neighbours would make ice cream so I would always go over when they were making ice cream.

I’ve always loved ice cream. In the summer, my cousins would always make fresh peach and raspberry ice cream with a machine they had. Later, when I went to college, my parents gave me an ice cream machine. I started a business for a very short time with one of my roommates in college. We would make two batches of ice cream and refrigerate them overnight. The next morning, we would freeze them and sell them. The favourite was peanut butter banana chocolate chip. The one that didn’t work was rhubarb and vodka sorbet. We had put too much vodka in it so it wouldn’t freeze. But it tasted good!

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What is your all-time favourite ice cream flavour?

This is my standard answer – my favourite flavour is always the one I’m working on. And it may not even be a flavour that customers end up liking. But for me it’s good because it is a challenge. I’m working on new combinations, new ideas that haven’t been put together. The one that I’m working on right now is a very odd one. I’m trying white miso as the flavour of the ice cream with a nut and fruit swirl. The nut that I tried had a little salt and pepper in it, just to give a little twist to it.

Are there any flavours that you like that have yet to make it into the market?

There is room for hot in ice cream but not sour. Hot, sour and sweet don’t quite work in ice cream. We’ve played around with spicy flavours. One of the other flavour guru and I love spice so we’ve tried chocolate curry, habanero, chilies, jalapeño. We really like it but up till now, marketing department doesn’t quite like it yet. We’re going to convince them!

Sometimes the chef’s taste is ahead of where the public is but it is okay. There’s a time for things. You need to be sensitive to the best timing.

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What is the weirdest flavour you’ve experimented with?

Rose was definitely an odd flavour. I also did a chocolate with BBQ sauce in it and it was horrible! I think it’s because there’s just so many savoury notes in BBQ sauce. Teriyaki sauce might be good because that has certain sweet notes to it.

What is one ice cream flavour that you’ve created which reflects your personality?

Chubby Hubby – although I’m not that chubby yet. (laughs) I just really like peanut butter and chocolate and malt. Pretzels go with beer so that was the edge of a beer concept. We’re still working on beer concepts because beer is so huge in the United States. We’re looking into putting some sort of thing with beer and I think we can do it.

Interview, Singapore

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