In the sticky swelter of the summer heat, nothing beats ice cream, be it a scoop of the garlic-flavored variety or a $150 tub of Madagascar Vanilla Bean.
But if garlic doesn’t tempt the palate and the vanilla seems too pricey, Idowu Oyetubo, the ice cream specialist at Home Sweet Confections, Inc., in Silver Spring, has 123 more flavors to offer.
Mr. Oyetubo, 42, started scooping ice cream at the Home Sweet parlor in 1989. The native of Nigeria had come to the United States on his honeymoon the year before. After touring the country, his wife wanted to stay in Maryland. Mr. Oyetubo was up for the adventure, not realizing that starting over would be so difficult.
“It was hard to start from scratch,” says Mr. Oyetubo, who now lives in Burtonsville. “I became humble.”
In Nigeria, he had managed a school for professional training. He was in charge of about 300 students and six staff members. His first job in the United States was as a cashier at a housewares store in Georgetown. The Home Sweet parlor was next door. Mr. Oyetubo, a frequent customer, needed a second job, so he applied. They handed him a scoop, and he learned to make ice cream.
Before he came to the United States, he had never tasted “real ice cream,” says Mr. Oyetubo. There was “cheap, commercial ice cream,” in Nigeria, he says. “But we never had a regular scoop-shop. It is more dense and more rich here. It is so much better.”
Over the years, Mr. Oyetubo climbed the ranks. In 1998, he became the ice cream specialist, which involves developing flavors and heading operations.
“He seems to have a gene for **ice-cream making** and the imagination without any formal training,” says Jerry Gumbiner, 75, owner of the company. A trained chef previously held Mr. Oyetubo’s position.
The Home Sweet shop was founded in 1984. Ice cream was made in the backroom. Mr. Gumbiner delivered it in his car. By 1994, the business had outgrown the backroom and moved to a small manufacturing plant in Silver Spring. In 1996, Home Sweet sold its shop and focused on manufacturing and distributing.
Today, Home Sweet has three ice cream makers and one sales representative, dishing out ice cream to more than 200 District-area restaurants and hotels, nine ice cream shops and the National Museum of American History’s Ice Cream Parlor.
A 2.5-gallon tub of “super-premium” ice cream costs between $25 and $36. The most popular flavor is vanilla. But any flavor can be made. For past clients, Mr. Oyetubo has developed such rarities as chili and anchovy ice cream.
On an average summer day, the company produces 500 to 800 gallons of ice cream. From November to December, daily production dwindles to about 250 gallons. It takes 15 minutes to make a batch of seven gallons.
Home Sweet does everything but milk the cows. It starts with a standard, all-natural mix that includes cream, milk and corn syrup. The mix is dumped into the two ice cream machines, which Mr. Oyetubo calls “blenders with a freezer.” After that, ingredients are added through a metal funnel on the top of the machines. To make seven gallons of strawberry ice cream, 12 pounds of strawberries are added.
The production area is a child’s dream and a dieter’s nightmare. It is stocked with 15 super-size boxes of Oreos, 28-gallon tubs of walnuts and pecans, and boxes upon boxes of white, dark and semisweet chocolate. Fresh raspberries and cherries for the sorbet simmer in brown sugar on the stove.
Yum. Don’t even think about the calories, says Mr. Oyetubo.
“When people ask me [about the fat], I tell them, ‘You come in here to indulge yourselves. If I tell you, you’ll be scared away.’” Besides, he says, “No one eats yogurt. It’s the fat that makes it good.”
Though his favorite flavor is Oreos and cream, Mr. Oyetubo steers clear of ice cream now that tasting is his full-time job.
“Personally, I hardly eat ice cream,” he says. “After testing it all day, the last thing you want to do is sit down and eat ice cream.”