February 21, 2017
Most Columbus natives are familiar with the popular Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams. This revolutionary restaurant was founded by Jeni Britton Bauer in 2002, when she decided to create ice cream free of synthetic ingredients. She wanted to use dairy from pasture-fed cows coupled with real ingredients. When asked what makes Jeni’s ice cream unique, Bauer said, “We think that body and texture is the coolest part of making ice cream, so we opt for the natural power of milk proteins to build body and texture. I don’t know anyone who makes ice cream like we do. Ice cream is designed to melt a very specific way—big, thick, and bouncy like buttercream at first, and then a thin, clean release of aroma as it goes.” In addition to the revolutionary chemistry of the ice
cream, Jeni’s offers nontraditional flavor combinations that any Columbus foodie is sure to love. Some Jeni’s flavors include Goat Cheese with Red Cherries, Wildberry Lavender, and Key Lime Buttermilk. For the less-adventurous eaters, Jeni’s also offers more traditional flavors, such as Cookies In Cream, Darkest Chocolate, and Salty Caramel. Bauer describes her creations as “American hard body ice creams with beautiful body, buttercream texture, bold flavor, and a clean finish. [They are] ice creams that tell a story, that are capable of sparking conversation or transporting you to different time and place.”
Jeni began her culinary journey two decades ago. She had a background in art and translated those creative skills to her ice cream dishes. When asked where she gets her culinary inspiration, she said, “I came from art. So I apply that kind of thinking to ice cream and business. I am always curious about what’s happening around me. I constantly look for new experiences, and meet new people. And they inspire us.”
Columbus has been the perfect location for Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams to begin its journey. The first restaurant opened in the North Market in 2002, and then moved to the Short North in 2007. When asked why she believes Jeni’s thrives in Columbus, Bauer said, “I’ve never been in a more collaborative city. And so beyond enjoying our ice creams, I think Columbus gets our mission — buying whole ingredients from where they grow best, much of it in Ohio — and wants to support that.” Through Jeni’s, Bauer hopes to bring to Columbus, “A sense of community because, at our core, we are about bringing people together. Our ice creams are really meant to be fun and to give a little spark to your date — to always offer something of an adventure through ice cream.”
Jeni’s also made an appearance at the 2016 Short North Gala. This event featured various Short North chefs creating their favorite dishes while artists from Jazz Arts Group and BalletMet gave performances. Regarding her experience with the Gala, Bauer said, “It was super! Hands down, one of our favorite events of the year.” She said her most memorable moment from the Gala was when Lori Gum of Stonewall Columbus received the Unsung Heroes award.