Eva Ein is the chef behind the ice cream creations at McConnell’s Fine Ice Creams, which recently opened a location at Grand Central Market in downtown Los Angeles. She is also co-owner and chef at Le Cafe Stella and Stella Mare’s in Santa Barbara. Ein and husband Michael Palmer, who purchased McConnell’s a few years ago, are making ice cream at the same Santa Barbara creamery the company has been using for almost 70 years. The milk and cream come from Central Coast grass-fed cows and the ingredients are sustainable and organic, sourced from partner farms, ranches and orchards. If you order a scoop of the mint chip, don’t expect the ice cream to be dotted with perfectly formed chocolate chips. At McConnell’s, Ein and her team make all of the chocolate shards, jams, preserves, caramels, crumbles and crisps in each flavor in-house. And that ultra-rich and creamy texture comes from a hybrid French pot process rather than widely used batch freezers. Current flavors include dark chocolate Paso brittle, churros con leche, and Eureka lemon and marionberries. And Ein has some special fall flavors in the works for the months ahead.
What’s coming up next on your menu? Well, I just finished up working on a couple flavors for Wurstküche in Los Angeles for Oktoberfest. We ended up with a pretty interesting German Rauchbier ice cream with big and smoky flavors. Right now, the dairy is smelling a lot like apple cider and spices, and the pumpkins are roasting for our Thanksgiving seasonal flavors. My favorite food seasons are just about here.
Latest ingredient obsession? I’m in love with the whole process of making jams and preserves. It’s a natural paired with ice cream and a great way to play with textures and flavor. I’ve already incorporated some of this, but I want to go further. There’s a local Santa Barbara woman, Maureen Foley (Red Hen Cannery), whose jams are amazing. I’d love to work with her on something, potentially.
The one piece of kitchen equipment you can’t live without, other than your knives? I’d be lost without the kettles I use for melting chocolates, preserves, caramel and the like, but the one thing I couldn’t live without? I have a massive immersion blender that comes in very handy when you’re trying to emulsify olive oil in cream. I’d be in deep trouble without that blender.
Your favorite day off away from the kitchen is ...? Easy. The Santa Barbara Saturday morning farmers market, followed by cooking dinner for my family and friends. It’s how I relax. It always seems to come back to food, somehow …
What chef has most influenced you? There’s no question that Alice Waters was and remains “it” for me. And not so strangely, the people who’ve worked alongside her like Jeremiah Tower, David Tanis, David Lebovitz, Judy Rodgers and Suzanne Goin, etc. She was the reason I started cooking and a huge inspiration when I opened my first restaurant. But I love what some of the young chefs are doing these days. Gabe Rucker at Le Pigeon in Portland is incredible, and Ludo Lefebvre is amazing. He also happens to be a fine chef.
Grand Central Market, 317 S. Broadway, Los Angeles, www.mcconnells.com.
I’ll take two scoops, in a cone. Follow me on Twitter @Jenn_Harris_