5-Course Lunch from the Wells Blue Bunny Chef!

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Hello!!

I love it here. I may never leave! Look at the view of the sunset from my room last night. Gorge!

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Ok – Wells Blue Bunny Blogger Summit 2K10!!!!

First of all, let me just tell you how incredibly nice, thoughtful and caring all the employees of Wells (the company that owns the Blue Bunny Ice Cream name) and their associates have been to us bloggers. As if coming up here for two days of pure indulgence wasn’t enough, they had to go and be the nicest people on earth, to boot!

We got things started this morning with breakfast at the Well’s owned Habitue Coffeehouse & Creperie in downtown Le Mars.

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The eatery is owned by Mike & Cheryl Wells, of the Wells Blue Bunny family, and all profits are funneled into a private ministry foundation they started for the community. Nice!

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The inside is so cozy – like being in a friend’s living room.

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I could have stayed and cozied up in one of the overstuffed couches and chairs they had around the place for hours. But I had things to do, and ice cream to eat.

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Peach Amaretto Crepes, too!

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Thin, chewy and smothered in freshly sautéed peaches, almonds and a sprinkling of powdered sugar. So delectable.

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We all enjoyed our breakfast while listening to Dave Smetter, Senior Director of Corporate Marketing & Communications, educate us about the Wells company. For such a big title, he was such a laid back and approachable guy. The best kind!

He told us how the company got started (over 95 years ago as a local milk delivery service,) how Wells Blue Bunny Ice Cream got its name (an entry in a “name that ice cream contest” from a father who noticed how much his son liked the blue bunnies on display at the local department store around Easter,) and how much the employees of the company loved their jobs, among other things!

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After breakfast, it was off to the ice cream factory for the big tour!

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This is me covered in head-to-toe, factory tour required gear. Please don’t blackmail me with this photo later…

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Sweet news (pun intended) – we’ve actually had an event photographer following us around all day, and since we weren’t able to take any personal photographs inside the factory, I’ll share the professional shots when they give them to us tomorrow!

After the tour (think pipes, holding tanks and lots – and LOTS – of ice cream, popsicles, ice cream bars and ice cream sandwiches, including some that we got to eat FRESH FROM THE LINE!!!!!) we, thankfully, ditched our getups and headed over to corporate headquarters. What a beautiful building!

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I was impressed. :)

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The rest of the bloggers were too! :D

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The story goes that as Wells began to grow, they’d slowly buy building after building in the community, to hold all its employees and operations.

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At one point, their employees were driving a mile away for meetings in different buildings, so in 2007 they finally built the facility we were in today, to hold everyone in one spot.

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Oh look, they had a welcome message to us bloggers on the flat screen televisions around the lobby! So great!

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After arriving, we were whisked off to lunch prepared by Wells’ Corporate Chef John Kennedy. John has a culinary arts degree and is also a Certified Culinary Scientist – one of only 70 in the world! He is a down home Nebraska boy, though, and couldn’t be more down to earth and ridiculously NICE.

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There was an intimate table set up in the middle of his kitchen for us. The menu was titled “Ice Cream for Lunch”. Ummm, yes please. ;) 

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Seriously though – there was Blue Bunny Ice Cream worked into every one of the 5 courses (!) we had for lunch.

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Starting with the aperitif (the appetizer’s appetizer): Blue Bunny Strawberry Spritzer.

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Chef took Blue Bunny Strawberry Ice Cream and blended it with fresh mint, fresh strawberries and club soda.

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See?

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Then he processed some mint chocolate chip ice cream that had been frozen solid in dry ice, to sprinkle on top. It was kind of like mint chocolate chip ice cream dust. So cool!

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Mmmm – refreshing, sweet and that fresh mint totally POPPED!

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Next was our Amuse Bouche: Citrus Ceviche. 

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Ceviche happens to be one of my very favorite things in the entire world, so I was so pumped to see this on the menu!

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Fresh scallops & prawns mixed with lemon sorbet, then added to tomatoes and cucumbers that the chef had picked up from the local farmer’s market the day before! So light and refreshing. Plus, you know how I feel about scallops!

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Our Salad Course was next.

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UMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM. Panko-breaded & fried Maytag Bleu Cheese balls, candied walnuts, homemade croutons and clementines over local, organic greens and topped with a raspberry sorbet vinaigrette! 

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Look at the oozy meltage!!! Crispy, tangy and amazing. I absolutely loved that it was Maytag bleu cheese too – another Iowa delicacy!

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Best salad ever.

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By this time I was feeling pretty full – but I somehow made room for two more courses. ;) Starting with our entree: roasted chicken with whipped, baby Yukon gold potatoes, fresh asparagus and a citrus buere blanc sauce.

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I’ve run out of adjectives, but let me tell you that this sauce was lemon-butter AMAZINGNESS and those potatoes!!! These were chef-made mashed potatoes, that’s for sure.

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He topped the roasted chicken, marinated in raspberry sorbet, with fried local cabbage which I would have never thought to do in a million years. It was chewy and salty – so fabulous.

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Ok, last course – dessert!  

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A trio of ice cream novelties, obvi, finished right in front of our eyes.

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One even came adorned with edible gold leaf. Fance!

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This was a Chocolate Cherry Cordial.

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Surprise! 

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A White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Lollipop complete with WCMN ice cream in the center. 

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And a Chocolate Covered Chocolate Mint Ice Cream Sandwich! Got that?! ;) 

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Luscious!

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By this time, I was full. I mean, I. Was. Full. But so impressed! You could tell Chef John was an innovator. Someone who LOVED his job and whose mission in life is to find the craziest, most clever way to use ice cream. I think he may have hit the nail on the head with lemon sorbet in my ceviche. Genius, I say!

As full as I was at that point, I somehow found a way to say yes to this:

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Which made me feel like this:

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:mrgreen:

More details to come on exactly what you are seeing in the above photographs, plus photos from the plant tour, a scientific taste testing session at headquarters, and much more!

I’m off to rest and attempt to conjure up an appetite for dinner with the group tonight. Thanks again to the Wells Blue Bunny employees for such an amazing day! :D

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Comments

  1. Kristin 07.15.2010

    UM, that looks like the most amazing meal ever created on earth. SO LUCKY!!!!!!!!!!! :D

  2. Colleen 07.15.2010

    WOW! That is all I’m able to say – WOW those courses look and sound amazing!

  3. Arati 07.15.2010

    Such an innovative meal… and oh so yummy…

  4. oh my goodness! I cant wait to read even more about your adventures! It seriously all looks like so much fun!!!

  5. Lauren 07.15.2010

    This has to be the best vacation ever! I seriously can not imagine a more perfect world than the one you are currently in!:)

  6. What a great meal they had for you! Sounds like a great time!

  7. erica 07.15.2010

    wow….the first photo of the view from your room is absolutely amazing. and then coffee and crepes? i don’t think i’d ever leave that place! and then that amazing meal!…wow

  8. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Kristin, Angela Ten Clay. Angela Ten Clay said: Love that place! Close to my hometown too! RT @iowagirleats: A Day at the Wells Blue Bunny Ice Cream Factory! http://tinyurl.com/3xdt2e5 [...]

  9. Lizzy @ LBBakes 07.15.2010

    YUM!! I love salad and that one looks AMAZING! I think I speak for everyone when I say I’m jealous!

    …Is Blue Bunny hiring? ;) How fun would that be!

  10. Exercise and Eat 07.15.2010

    I can’t believe every dish had ice cream in it!! This looks like my dream day:)

  11. I am SO impressed by how well they treated you guys. It’s great to see a large company do that!

  12. You´re simply the luckiest girl in the world!
    You knew that.. right?!
    :D

  13. That day looks absolutely AWESOME!

  14. Jealous. I am SO jealous!!

  15. Allison @ livingoneday 07.15.2010

    That looks like a sundae bar to me!! Wow can I just say I am so totally jealous of you!! Everything looks and sounds awesome. I think the creativity of the plates was amaZing! I should give that a whirl! Have a great rest of your trip and I can’t wait to hear more!

  16. MAC 07.15.2010

    So happy for you and your chance to see all the inner workings of the Wells Blue Bunny business. You ARE the luckiest girl in the world! Thanks for sharing all the details-makes me feel like I was right there with you with the pictures and descriptions. The Wells people all sound like amazing and kind people:)

  17. Machelle 07.15.2010

    Holy Cow!

  18. Elyse 07.15.2010

    I am totally planning a trip to visit there now based on your fab trip report! How sweet of them to welcome all the bloggers and make it so personal like that! I never would have thought to mix ice cream in the dishes like the chef did. Amazing! The chocolate covered mint chocolate chip ice cream sandwich??? may or may not have made me drool a little bit onto my keyboard ;-) Can’t wait to hear more about your trip!

  19. BroccoliHut 07.15.2010

    You totally rocked that hairnet:)

  20. Dawn 07.15.2010

    First of all your trip looks amazing. But your pictures are getting better day by day.

    I know my blog is only a week old and I am no photographer but someday, I want my blog to be as polished as yours! I know it will take time as it grows and looking at yours is inspiring!

    Have a wonderful day tomorrow and I cannot wait to see their pics too!

  21. that looks like SUCH a great day. love ice cream! I have actually never had blue bunny though

  22. Jeff Risley 07.15.2010

    What a great post Kristin. I love all the photos. You really brought the day to life. Thanks so much for your post.

  23. I love the coffeehouse you went to in the morning and especially love their mission!!

  24. Dream Mom 07.15.2010

    What a fun time! Seriously, where do you put all of that food? Everything looks fabulous. Glad to hear you are having a great time. Did I read that right-Blue Bunny Raspberry Vinaigrette? Didn’t know they made that…how was it?

  25. Emily 07.16.2010

    You are living my dream! So when should we expect a Kristin-created ice cream to hit the store shelves?

  26. Lindsey 07.16.2010

    OMG. i cannot handle how perfect that dinner looks, especially the dessert!!!!!

  27. Umm, where do I get a job like THAT? I’ve got 9 more weeks til I’m a chef… How cool!

    What a fun day it looks like you had! And the food!! Mmm…

    xo
    Kris

  28. Kimberly 07.16.2010

    Oh my word, I am so jealous!!! Tell them that they forgot to invite me, Kimberly from FrugalPlayground.com!! I’m a huge Blue Bunny fan since attending college at Northwestern not far from Le Mars. And tell them my dad dated the daughter of the Blue Bunny guy! :)

    Thanks for sharing the pictures! It looks like a great time!

  29. Beth @ bethcooks 07.16.2010

    Wow. That meal looked amazing…..and don’t even get me started on the fried blue cheese. Unbelievable.

  30. AJ 07.16.2010

    I love your blog, and this might be my favorite blog post ever! As one previous commenter said, the day was definitely brought to life. The lunch you had yesterday looks so amazing, particularly the salad and the dessert. You normally eat mostly produce, so you must be on a total sugar high from all these SWEETS!

    • AJ 07.16.2010

      Just in case someone from Wells is reading this, is it possible for the chef to share his salad recipe or at least the recipe for the raspberry sorbet vinaigrette? I would like to try to make it, although I do not have the skills of the Wells chef, for SURE!

  31. Emily 07.16.2010

    From start to finish that meal looks deeeeelicious!!!!!!! And that mini mint icecream sandwich – OMGGGGGGGG.

  32. ClevelandSteph 07.16.2010

    IowaGirl, I sure do love your blog. And I understand the relationships that bloggers are creating with product manufacturers and other vendors. But wow, this one is pretty obvious. Don’t get me wrong–the recipes sound great, your writing and coverage is great and the photos are wonderful. But as I see bloggers incorporating these types of “advertorials” into their blogs, I wonder if you all have some sort of standards you set for how to present this information to readers?

    • admin 07.16.2010

      ClevelandSteph: I understand your concern, but I have been a loyal Blue Bunny consumer for over 24 years. I have written about their products for free and under my own discretion for the entire year and 3 months that I have been writing this blog. I would never accept a trip or invitation like this from a company that I didn’t 100% believe in, love and think my readers would too! :)

  33. Maura 07.16.2010

    WOAH BABY (said in my Stephanie Tanner voice!) That IS amazingness! I am so super jealous of you right now and can’t wait for the next segment of your trip! I”m especially jealous of those mashed potatoes and the Chocolate Cherry Cordial!!!! Mouth-watering!

  34. WOW! I am jealous! That ice cream sundae bar would make my life complete!

  35. sassy 07.16.2010

    It all looks so yummy! Love your striped shirt!

  36. Gayle 07.16.2010

    Totally jealous! Love your postings and especially this one…I may have to grab by daughter from Des Moines and make the trek to LaMars soon. Thank you for sharing your experience, can’t wait to read more.

  37. Ohmahgosh, you have no idea how jealous I am of this entire meal! That ice cream topping bar looks soooo fantastic, and the macadamia lollipop – holy wow! You’re so right, I can tell that chef really enjoys being creative with his work :)

  38. ClevelandSteph 07.16.2010

    Thanks for the response, IowaGirl! I wish more bloggers showed how much they really believed in what they write about : )

  39. Sarah 07.16.2010

    Your blog has led to many fun adventures! Can’t wait to hear more about this trip!

  40. My goodness, what a meal! You still look gorge even wearing the factory touring gear – no fair! The desserts look so goood!!

  41. Natalie O. 07.16.2010

    Blue Bunny is the best ice cream out there. I’ve tried others, Ben & Jerry, Haagen Dazs, and I just keep coming back. Nothing tastes better!

  42. [...] other news, I picked up this adorable post card at the Blue Bunny gift shop in Le Mars, and framed it in a simple black frame. I’m going to hang it somewhere in my [...]

  43. Anna 07.18.2010

    Ceviche… It’s been too long! Know anywhere to get it around here? I’ve only had homemade in Iowa.

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