• Sat. Jan 28th, 2023

Local Executive Chef Liz Rogers goes national with her Creamalicious Ice Cream

By Dan Yount

The Cincinnati Herald

And Talia Horwich

W&W Public Relations

A supernatural pull toward the culinary arts made it clear that Chef Liz would dedicate her life to healing the soul by sharing innovative and time-honored traditional Southern comfort food. Under the watchful eye of her mother and grandmother, Chef Liz honed her passion for cooking while growing up in Cleveland, Ohio. Her never-ending love and enthusiasm for food led to the opening of hot-spot restaurants. She has been highlighted in the media for her highly sought-after food and inspiring work within the community. Chef Liz prides herself on being innovative with her whimsical 2-in-1 desserts that pair freshly baked pastries with homemade ice creams made with only the freshest ingredients. As one of the first African American, female-owned national ice cream brands in mass production, Chef Liz crafts her blissfully Southern artisan desserts by celebrating her roots and community.

Chef Liz Rogers always found joy in the stories and soul food recipes passed down by the women in her Southern family, especially the sweet potato pies, red velvet cakes, peach cobblers, and homemade ice creams that satisfied her wicked sweet tooth. So, she thought, why not make desserts that blend premium French ice cream with Southern comfort food and create a brand that celebrates her roots? That inspiration led her to start the Blissfully Southern Creamalicious Artisan Ice Cream. Each flavor has an origin story, an affirmation, and is named for the family member who inspired it. It’s the kind of ice cream that harkens back to good times spent playing outside until the streetlights came on and sitting on the front porch enjoying scoops on hot summer days.

“Creamalicious is as much about the history of soul food as it is about the artisanal flavors,” Rogers said. “Historically, red velvet cake was a celebration cake served on Emancipation Day, or Juneteenth. The color symbolizes the bloodshed of the lives lost during enslavement. Quyte Cake (a Southern white cake) was often given as a peace offering.”

Chef Liz Rogers. Photo provided

The Ohio native rose through the ranks of the culinary world, becoming an executive chef and restaurateur in Ohio.

In 2013 Chef Liz founded Creamalicious Ice Cream. This brand combines Southern cakes and pies, baked from recipes passed down through four generations of the Wilcox and Patterson families, packed into super-premium, artisanal ice cream cartons.

For years, Chef Liz Rogers knocked on the doors of stores such as Walmart, Meijer, and Kroger to get her product on their shelves, but to no avail.

“When we were ready, I called on Walmart first,” Rogers said. “I wanted to be in those stores because of the product, not because I am a Black owner of the business.” However, for three years, she worked to get Creamalicious in the world’s biggest retailer without success. She decided to give it a try again 2 years ago  after Walmart President/CEO Doug McMillon spoke publicly about the company’s commitment to improve in the area of diversity, equity and inclusion. “I had to go for it. I couldn’t be afraid of failure or rejection, even if it was for a fourth time. The worst that could happen was that I’d get another no, and if I did, I was going to ask what I could do better next time.”

Aunt Poonie’s Caramel Pound Cake. Photo provided

There was no need for that.

Finally, in 2020, Chef Liz got the call she had been waiting for from Walmart.

The Creamalicious brand can now be found in 2,930 stores across the country, including Kroger – 1,288 | Walmart – 643 | Target – 278 —Ralphs – 189 | Meijer – 149 | Fred Myers – 144 — Frys – 125 | Schnucks – 112 | Rouse’s Market – 66 — Jungle Jims – 2

“We have been in Walmart for 2 years, and we now have distribution throughout the country. The Slap Yo’ Momma Banana Pudding still tops the sales list,” she said.

The ice cream products are produced in a North Carolina plant, the same plant where Häagen-Dazs is produced, as an indication of the quality of the product.

Creamalicious is currently poised to expand its brand offerings in 2023: coffee creamers, soft-baked cookies, ice cream sandwiches, and new flavors.

Rogers also created the menu for Penny Hardaway’s “Nitty Gritty” downtown restaurant in Memphis, TN. Penny Hardaway, a former professional player and four-time NBA All-Star is the head coach of the men’s basketball team at the University of Memphis. She is also slated to open “Ida Mae’s Juke Joint,” an upscale tapas entertainment restaurant venue and “Cream of the Crust” that will launch the first Creamalicious Desserterie in 2023.

Chef Liz and former basketball player Penny Hardaway at the grand opening of Penny’s Nitty Gritty in Memphis, Tennessee. Photo provided

Rogers came to Cincinnati for an opportunity to open an upscale restaurant. She has actually opened several soul food restaurants, including the former Mahogany’s soul food restaurant at The Banks and now Wing Champ in Sharonville, Ohio, which won a “Best Chicken Wings in Ohio” honor from Microsoft News. She calls it “Cincinnati’s one-and-only juke joint.”

While Mahogany’s was eventually closed, Rogers said she began picking up one piece at a time. Rogers said it took perseverance, hard work, believing in herself and faith in God to reach the point in her career where she is now. “I am really grateful for my learning experiences at The Banks restaurant. They made me a really strong woman,” she said.

Meanwhile, she had been working on the ice cream project for the past 8 years with a team of advisors,  food scientists and marketing experts and investors.      

“You cannot be afraid to fail, for if you do not try, you will never know,” she said. “But have a good plan and good people around you, people who add value, understand hard work, and have the purpose and passion for the business that you do.”

Right As Rain Red Velvet Cheesecake. Photo provided

And succeed she did. When Creamalicious went viral, the company’s post received more than 100 million views worldwide. An individual from Africa sent her a letter. “Things look very optimistic,” she commented.

Like so many other spots around the country, the pandemic forced her to stop all indoor dining, so Rogers pivoted and started to turn out show-stopping desserts to-go, like her Pineapple Upside Down Cake, Co-Co Cola Chocolate Cake, Lemon Velvet Cheesecake, Pink Lemonade cake, and a mason jar dessert called Sweet Georgia Morning in Your Mouth. “People didn’t want to leave home, but they still wanted Southern comfort foods. Sometimes the only thing they ordered through the delivery platforms were our desserts and Creamalicious pints. The desserts literally kept my business going.”

With Creamalicious now for sale nationwide (and globally), Rogers is finalizing a deal with Sysco, the food service company, to grow the brand even more and developing an assortment of sorbets for vegans and diabetics, a line of frozen desserts, and homemade biscuits. That’s all in addition to opening the first Creamalicious brick-and-mortar outpost inside Wing Champ.

Slap Yo’ Momma Banana Pudding. Photo provided

“We strive to always produce amazing products and a culinary experience of Southern decadence that is unique, fun, and utterly delicious,” she said.

Rushion McDonald, a marketing and branding specialist from Atlanta, who was television celebrity Steve Harvey’s former manager, and is currently ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith’s Business Manager has worked with Rogers in branding Creamalicious after she brought him on board. He said, “Liz Rogers is an original food genius. She is always coming up with new ideas. Sample her products. They fly off the shelves, especially the Slap Yo’ Momma Banana Pudding.”

McDonald added that as a celebrity chef, the fact that Creamalicious is already competing with other nationally recognized brands is a testament to Rogers’ success.