Imagine waking up every day with a smile, cruising to work and then playing with food all day long. Did you picture it? Then welcome to the life of Eric Fredette! He’s a Ben & Jerry’s Flavor Guru, one of the 6 people responsible for inventing new, euphoric flavors to tempt your tastebuds.
We recently sat down with Eric to find out more about the road he took to Ben & Jerry’s, why he’s been dubbed “The Angry Chef,” and the secrets behind his latest project – Ben & Jerry’s Cores.
Let’s start with the most important question. What’s your favorite Ben & Jerry’s flavor?
It’s hard to pick just one. Let me give you two: Phish Food and Coconut Seven Layer Bar.
Is Coconut Seven Layer Bar one of your own creations?
Yes, but there’s nothing wrong with rooting for the home team, is there?
You’ve been at Ben & Jerry’s for 18 years and counting. Do you remember your first project?
I wasn’t even an employee yet. I was working at Rhino Foods and we partnered with the Ben & Jerry’s R&D team to troubleshoot cookie dough. It’s typically sticky and soft. Our challenge was to figure out the easiest way to get it into little pieces that could go into ice cream to make our classic Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough.
Sounds like some Mad Scientist type stuff.
There’s definitely some science behind it, but my background is in the culinary arts. I get paid to play with food. I’m a chef. My unofficial title is actually “Angry Chef.”
An Angry Chef?
You know, it’s not easy being me. I don’t remember who said it first, but I don’t mind the name. My filter is broken and I don’t hold a lot inside. I think that’s a good thing. Everybody always knows my thoughts on the situation.
So then it’s no secret how happy you are with the success of the Cores?
It’s pretty amazing how they’ve created this buzz. I think it has a lot to do with customization. Let’s take Salted Caramel. With every bite, you can choose a little bit of caramel and a lot of ice cream, or a little bit of ice cream and a lot of caramel. Each bite is customized to be perfect for you.
Can you tell us what new flavors we can expect in the Cores line?
Sorry. Those are secrets of the Chef, but I can tell you that you won’t be seeing a Boston Cream Pie flavor.
But that sounds delicious!
Well, it just wouldn’t work. Boston Cream Pie has a custard filling, right? To make that stand as a Core, we’d have to change the custard’s consistency. It would taste right, but it wouldn’t feel right. And we believe that feel is important, because it helps build a connection to the memories you have of certain tastes and flavors.
Yeah. Chewy custard would be weird.
It would deliver on taste, but not on the overall custard experience.
Moving right along, and please excuse us if we’re getting too personal, but can you tell us about your chickens?
My girls? I love my girls! I’ve been raising them since they were chicks. They spent the winter indoors, keeping warm near the fireplace, and then they moved outside to the coop once the weather got nicer. They’re free-range, walking from my yard to the neighbor’s field and back again.
Do you have a favorite?
I love them all, though there’s one, the oldest, who follows me around and talks like she’s sharing the secrets of the world.
You have a talking chicken?
Well, she warbles. Like all chickens do.
And you can understand her?
As well as any man can understand a chicken, I guess.
It’s a talent, that’s for sure. Thanks for taking the time to talk with us. We can’t wait to taste what you come up with next!