During my tenure as the PR Manager for Maui Ocean Center, I was lucky enough to travel with Maui Visitor Bureau to attend a few of their Media Blitzes on the mainland. One year, the theme of the Blitz in California was “Tutu’s House”. We traveled with boxes of props to set up each venue so it looked like you were visiting your Hawaiian grandma’s house. We also brought a chef from Maui, to create Hawaiian fusion pupus for each event, but the most memorable (food-related) part of the trip was the Roselani Ice Cream we had specially flown in to each city we visited.
Roselani Ice Cream is part of the family run Maui Soda and Ice Works, which has been an important part of the Maui community for 125 years. In 1922, Manuel Nobriga joined Maui Soda & Ice Works, delivering ice via horse and wagon. Ten years later, he started making ice cream from scratch and creating his own flavors and recipes, many of which are still used today. Today, Manuel’s five grandchildren are all majority stockholders in the company, and each work for one of the now three family businesses as well.
Manuel’s granddaughter, Catherine Nobriga Kim, has worked at the plant since she was 15, and is now the Manager of Roselani Ice Cream, as it was formally named in 1970.
Cathy took some time out from her incredibly busy day (and her BIRTHDAY no less!) this morning to answer some questions for us –
Cathy Nobriga Kim: I started at the youthful age of 15 when I spent my summers making milk nickel, orange dreamsicle, fudgesicle, popsicles and filling cups of ice cream. That’s when labor was inexpensive. There are a number of highlights – the largest ice cream sundae at the Maui County Fair & Racing Association events (the Fair), largest ice cream sandwich (which got into the Guinness World Book of Records for a year), new flavors, etc. But the highlight of my ice cream education came when I attended my first bona fide, professional ice cream course put on by Tharp & Young in 2002. I had full intentions of becoming professionally educated on ice cream manufacturing, science, etc. My grandfather, Manuel, and my dad, Buddy, were artisans who learned by doing and utilizing books as references. Here we are in the 21st century and I would become the first of the three generations to be formally educated in this field. Conclusion: my grandfather and dad had the “art of making ice cream” in their genes. The class provided me the “terminology”, “theories” and what ifs. Bottom line: it is an art and not all science. You consume what you produce.
CNK: We continue to manufacture using the original method of pasteurization – 30 minutes at 165 deg F – or batch pasteurization. This allows for the butter, milk and sugar to slowly blend together and give it a caramelized profile. Technology has shortened this period to 15 minutes (HTST) and 5 minutes (UHT) which does not provide that slow, churning process to develop the profile and consistency. Again we do things in batches all the way through the freezing process. We will measure and flavor each batch at 100 gallons at time – processing 1000 gallons in a day.
Some of our ingredients, such as the cocoa, continues to be sourced from the same company since 1932. Our house vanilla has not changed as well. It’s all about the integrity of our staff and taking care of the product until it is delivered to the retailer/restaurant/scoop shop.
CNK: We are in 160 restaurants – full service, local, deli – as well as “scooping locations” (ice cream shoppes, shave ice stands, mom & pop store).
MM: What are the secrets to a successful family run business?
CNK: Always lead by example – do not take it for granted that being family allows for excuses. Work hard – hard work pays off.
MM: What’s next for Roselani?
Introducing 2 new flavors into our retail line-up (Hint: will have local influences) with a new look and size. As always, we continue to share with the world our heavenly ice cream, Roselani, with an experience equal to or better than what Hawaii has to offer.
MAHALO to Cathy (and happy birthday!), and mahalo to the entire Roselani crew for making the state’s best ice cream!!!
What you need to know:
There are over 40 flavors of Roselani Premium and Super Premium Ice Cream; the best selling Haupia, Kona Mud Pie, sherbets such as Guava and Lychee, and seasonal flavors such as Egg Nog and Pumpkin Pecan.
Roselani Ice Cream can be found all across the Hawaiian Islands in the major supermarket chains.
And in September, two new retail locations on Maui opened up – The Pu’ukoli’i General Store and Ice Cream Shoppe at The Westin Ka’anapali Ocean Resort Villas and the brand new Safeway in Wailuku!