Hurry, hurry, step right up to an ice cream truck for all ages.
Pastry chef Natasha Goellner is best-known for Natasha’s Mulberry & Mott, a bakery specializing in elegant cakes, classic pastries and French macarons. But closing her retail location on the Country Club Plaza a year ago has allowed her to break out of the day-to-day production grind and create two new companies.
Splits & Scoops features gourmet ice cream treats and classic banana splits. Bokkie Sjokolade is a chocolate company named for a South African term of endearment for children.
And now Goellner has decided the time is right to bring all her treats under “one tent” with a new food truck she calls Cirque du Sucre — French for “Circus of Sugar.”
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The 20-foot whimsical, pastel-striped truck that features an orange giraffe logo is starting to pop up around town for various events, including The Star’s Food Truck Friday in November.
“Cirque du Sucre is a store on wheels and carries things from all three companies,” says Goellner, who co-owns the company with her mother, Vicki Goellner. “I can also use it like a delivery vehicle, or a CSA. I can do ice cream sundaes in the summer and fall, and then for Thanksgiving I could switch to pie and ice cream.”
On a recent scorchingly hot summer afternoon, Goellner took me out to her converted linen supply truck parked outside her Waldo commercial kitchen. She uses a waffle iron and a plastic cone mold to make three waffle cones: blue corn for the Rancho Gordo brown sugar-popcorn ice cream, vanilla for the orange blossom with chunks of plum and strawberry ice cream and a buckwheat cone with brown butter, brown sugar, cinnamon and ginger for the sweet potato ice cream.
“I used to have to make a lot of little desserts that took a lot of time with the bakery. I don’t want to have to do things in 20 different stages anymore,” she says. “Plus, people are in a better mood when they are eating ice cream.”
Splits & Scoops got its start when Goellner’s failed attempt to find a a classic banana split while on a date a few years ago — something she refers to as “the banana split ordeal.” For her, there is no clowning around with soft-serve ice cream, or fancier flavors, such as the ubiquitous salted caramel. Her split requires a scoop of vanilla, strawberry and chocolate and a sprinkling of peanuts.
“I believe certain things should not be messed with,” she says. “The whole idea was to have a banana split the way it was supposed to be.”
Her iconic split offerings include a classic Asian-style sundae that appeared at a recent pop-up for Columbus Park Ramen Shop called patbingsu — a Korean ice cream treat that includes a mashup of sweet potato or matcha ice cream, shaved ice, sweetened condensed milk, tropical fruits, sweet red beans, rice cake and matcha powder.
Goellner puts her own spin on ice cream sandwiches using her colorful French macaroons to sandwich the various flavors. She also carries cookies, marshmallows and other packaged sweets from Natasha’s Mulberry & Mott onboard the truck. Meanwhile, Bokkie Sjokolade, named in honor of her South African husband and their toddler daughter, is a chance to use chocolate to fill in the months when the weather turns cold again and ice cream sales wane.
And when she’s not the ringmaster of her own three-ring dessert circus, Goellner will create the dessert menu for her brother Nick Goellner’s and sister-in-law Leslie Newsom Goellner’s highly anticipated restaurant, The Antler Room, due to open this fall in the former Chips & Dips Mediterranean Cafe space at 2506 Holmes. Nick previously worked at Noma in Copenhagen, considered the world’s best restaurant.
Goellner says she has been given free rein to create The Antler Room’s desserts, and perhaps because she is working with her brother, “My plate of desserts somehow just works with his food. It all seems to be from one person.”
Jill Wendholt Silva is The Star’s James Beard award-winning food editor, lead food critic and blog curator. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org. She tweets at @kcstarfood and @chowtownkc.