Hearing about an event called the Ice Cream Takedown, Untapped’s editors scrambled to get an invitation and indeed it was as exciting as one could imagine. Organized by Matt Timms, the Ice Cream Takedown is a huge competition between 26 local amateur chefs who sought to win the most votes by 200 taste testers with their original (and sometimes quite unusual) ice cream flavors. Additionally, there were three professional judges representing Il Laboratorio del Gelato, Dreamscoops and Bluemarble who voted separately and awarded titles to their top picks.
I arrived early to interview chef Patricia Clark and organizer Matt Timms, but in the flurry of dry ice, little cups and ice cream scoops I waited until things had calmed down to get the scoop (pun intended).
Following the tense, manic set up which played out to heavy metal music, the doors opened and just over 200 people flooded into the room and invaded the tables stacking their plates high with ice cream, sampling whilst they waited in line the free samples brought by the professional judges.
My first stack of choice picks included mushroom ice cream, “Master Cleanse” (yes it was inspired by the lemon, cayenne and maple diet) and “Ecto Cooler’” (a raw vegan Thai coconut, cashew and spirulina ice cream), “Christmas in July” (Coconut milk, spices, rum and coconut cream) and “Sundae Fundae” (Mojito ice cream). Eventually I settled on the chocolate toffee crunch opting, for something simpler and closer to my type of comfort food, although the truffle ice cream came close. In the end 3 of my top 4 made the cut.
After all the cones had been eaten, spoons and bowls licked clean, rock music still blaring I was able to catch up with Patricia Clark and Matt Timms to tell me about the event.
Patricia Clark had created one of my runners up–the dark chocolate, black truffle and cherry ice cream. Ice cream is the ultimate comfort food for Americans, Patricia’s comfort food is truffles. Having lived in Italy for five years, three of which were spent in Umbria, to her comfort comes from the forests she would spend time in and the rich forest flavors of the area. What better to pair truffles with than rich dark chocolate, and as she states on her website she likes to use “seasonal ingredients” so the cherries were the perfect summer option. The original use of the sugar cookie base gave it, as she explained, a “tiramisu like element,” whereas other’s ice creams turned into soup, hers melted into the cookie capturing the lovely strong flavors. The ice cream was unique, inventive and carefully thought out.
Patricia is also working on a series of artist dinners bringing together artists, their work and fine food (previously she has done an event with Baang and Burne which Untapped previously covered). She sees the catering business as something similar to art–her culinary creations are created for a specific patron and when it’s done it leaves its creator and is over. She has two coming up in the near future, collaborating this time with music. The first with opera, the second with an experimental music artist.
And the ultimate question: would she ever do another Takedown? For sure! She’s already won the Googamooga Hot Sauce takedown with her original wasabi based creation, so why not.
Matt Timms, began the Takedown series with a chili takedown. As a member of the International Chili Society he decided he wanted to create an event which would be a little different, meaning no rules. Starting at his home, the event eventually grew to the size it is today, sporting a wide variety of food from avocados and fondue to cookies and ice cream, all over the country. Some events are sponsored by companies, like the avocado board or Hormel Bacon, and the locations are also sometimes sponsored. The events are kept small, with only 200 lucky people gaining access making it more intimate and also more manageable for the chefs competing.
The events continue around the country with the San Francisco Bacon takedown on July 14, and back in the Brooklyn Chili, Bacon and Cookies takedown later this year.