Beverly Stephen - December 2013
Atlanta—When chef Matt Swickerath at Valenza restaurant here wanted a Negroni sorbet to float atop his Negroni, he turned to Keith Schroeder, the ice cream chef. Schroeder manufactures some 64 basic flavors at his three year old High Road company but will custom make almost anything another chef might want.
He has made chocolate/peanut butter/pretzel ice cream for Ron Eyester at Rosebud in Atlanta, pumpkin bread pudding soft serve for Sean Wight at Farmhaus Burger in Augusta, and baklava ice cream for Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.
He does not buy pre-made ice cream bases but instead makes all of his own mixes and stresses the use of quality ingredients such as Valrhona chocolate.
Schroeder originally came up with his business plan when he was working on an MBA while he was an executive chef at Atlanta’s Westin hotel. His business plan won a top award, and he realized he was onto something that could change his life. He wanted to leave the corporate world and have his own business, and he had found a niche. For him, this was a high road. And just as he was convincing himself to take this path, the song “High Road” by Broken Bells came on his car radio. It had to be a sign. He believed there were enough chefs out there who wanted high quality, artisanal if you will, ice cream who didn’t have the wherewithal to make it in-house. As a chef himself, he could listen to their needs and provide the kind of flavor and texture they were looking for. It turns out he was right. He now numbers the Four Seasons and the St. Regis in Atlanta, and select Ritz-Carltons, Hiltons, and Marriotts among his foodservice customers. He’s beginning the push for national expansion.
And then there’s Bangkok. This fall, he opened a plant there. A bit far afield? “We met some brilliant soon-to-be MBAs four years ago at a Shark Tank–style graduate business plan competition in Nebraska, of all places, and developed a wonderful personal and professional chemistry with them,” he explains. “We plan on tackling Bangkok metro, Phuket, Samui Island, Singapore, and Hong Kong first, with hopes and dreams of entering Shanghai at some point.” That sounds like global expansion.