Jared Plummer knows what the arrival of Labor Day means.
It's time to put the white shoes back in the closet. Fall is approaching, and soon, a chill will slice through the air. But that's not going to keep him from cranking up the production on Two Roosters Ice Cream. He wants it to transcend the status of seasonal specialty.
"We're hoping people will continue to want our ice cream all year," says Plummer, an optimist whose enthusiasm is infectious. "We're also developing a plan for retail. We hope to have Two Roosters in some very special businesses by winter."
Plummer loves ice cream with atypical zeal. He talks about "dreaming" in ice cream flavors, waking up with a new flavor in mind. He beams when he delivers cones to customers.
After debuting in March, the Raleigh-based food truck, which makes its ice cream in a leased space at Durham's The Cookery, has become a hit of street parties, outdoor concerts and food-truck convocations. Part of the secret is Two Roosters' look. Plummer and his wife, Kelsey, sling their ice cream from a vintage camper attached to a matching 1965 Ford F-100, its turquoise-and-white stripes practically sparkling with polish. What's more important and potentially longer lasting, though, is how deeply Two Roosters' most popular flavors are entrenched in community. Many of them are collaborations with Triangle businesses.
There was, for instance, the one made with creamed honey from Raleigh's Vintage Bee, paired with season-peak strawberries. For another, Slingshot's cold-brewed coffee provided a caffeinated zing to fudge-ripple ice cream. And Yellow Dog Bakery's decadent pecan sticky buns serve as the foundation of an ice cream with a growing set of loyal fans.
"A girl came to the truck recently and told me that it changed her life," Plummer says with obvious delight. "I'm so glad we could help."
Plummer applies that approach to more temporary offerings, too. For the first-anniversary celebration of the Raleigh coffee bar BREW, Two Roosters created a slate of new ice creams incorporating some of BREW's most popular flavors. Plummer will plunk vanilla or chocolate ice cream into BREW's Iced Nitro Cold Brew. Tea lovers get pink scoops of Hibiscus Rooibos-infused ice cream. Plummer is developing blends that incorporate favorite BREW snacks, too, like its dark chocolate chip cookies and banana-peanut bar.
And for an upcoming Durham Food Truck Rodeo, Two Roosters will pay homage to several food trucks that share space at The Cookery, including Pie Pushers and American Meltdown. That's right, ice cream flavored like pizza and grilled cheese sandwiches.
"This is who we are," Plummer says. "We're all about collaborations, connecting with people who are food artisans and really care about community. We love being supportive of our friends."
Plummer started making ice cream as a child on his grandmother's front porch in Stokesdale, a small town near Greensboro. He would look up at the front door and see a strutting pair of carved black roosters flanking the entrance, hence Two Roosters Ice Cream.
The house is long gone, and Plummer's expertise has progressed beyond hand-crank ice cream makers. About five years ago, he got serious about turning his hobby into his vocation. He took several seminars in New York City at Ice Cream University, run by industry legend Malcolm Stogo.
He subsequently focused on developing ice creams from non-dairy sources, including coconuts, soy, almonds and hemp. (They will add vegan flavors next year.) In the months leading to Two Roosters' launch last spring, Plummer gained hands-on experience working at famed Little Baby's Ice Cream of Philadelphia, which promises choices "to suit every kind of open-minded and convivial citizen." He trained at an upscale scoop shop in Park City, Utah, and with a leading manufacturer of batch freezers in Florida.
Perhaps not surprisingly, Plummer now aspires to the kind of success The Parlour has achieved in Durham. He holds owners Vanessa and Yoni Mazuz in the highest esteem and is grateful to have a relationship in which he can bounce ideas off the couple. They, too, started their business with a mobile ice cream truck.
"I look at them—as well as the craft brewery movement in our area—and think we can do this," says Plummer, who hopes to add a brick-and-mortar operation next year. "We can be just as creative and inventive with ice cream, and we can do it here in Raleigh."
Plummer's commitment to community is perhaps most clear in his ice cream tribute to Raleigh's Sola Coffee Cafe and its owners, John and Jeanne Luther. When Two Roosters first launched, the Luthers allowed Plummer to ship their ice cream base, made by Homeland Creamery of Guilford County, through Sola. North Carolina law limits production of commercial ice cream base to certified dairies, so all ice cream shops that make signature flavors start with a base already approved by the state Department of Agriculture.
"I'd be over there at 5:30 in the morning to pick up a five-gallon bucket of base, then spend the rest of the day spinning ice cream," Plummer remembers.
Plummer now infuses his ice cream base with an overnight soak of Sola's addictive mini donuts, typically the cinnamon sugar variety, and strains the mix before churning. He adds a drizzle of his own cinnamon syrup to create ribbons that swirl through each scoop.
"For us, this is the language of love," Plummer says, unapologetic with his earnestness. "We love these people, and we love ice cream. The way we see it, let's put it together and call it a party."
This article appeared in print with the headline "Local mixer"