Behind the Brand: Kai Lee Creamery
I recently had the opportunity to interview my good friend, Butch Adams. He is the owner of Kai Lee Creamery in Pacific Grove, California, and is one of the most real, kind, and funny people I have ever met. As someone with many food allergies, I appreciate what he is doing to bring organic options to the Monterey area. Not to mention, his ice cream is incredibly delicious!!
Tell me a little about bit about yourself!
Well, my name is Butch, and I like to eat. I’m a fat guy, kind of a professional at eating. So, I know what tastes good, and I try to make things that taste good. Things I like to eat. That’s why I’m not skinny.
What led you to ice cream?
When I was a kid, I made ice cream with my mom. The old fashioned way, with the barrel and the rock salt and the ice. And it’s really cool, but it kind of sucks because, you know, the formula wasn’t right. So, it wasn’t the best. I have two girls and my oldest daughter is Torian Lee. She’s allergic to many many things. So, one year for her birthday I wanted to make her ice cream because I took her to a place, and she had a really bad reaction because there was corn syrup in the ice cream, which I didn’t know. I asked them, and they said there was not. So, I learned how to make ice cream.
I was going to use liquid nitrogen to make it, but that was actually going to cost about $1,000 with renting a dewar, and then getting the liquid nitrogen and all that. So, I decided against that and we just made it with dry ice, and it was horrible because dry ice actually makes carbonated ice cream. Now, it was a lot of fun to make and eat with Torian, but it taste really bad! But she really liked it, and ate it all. Once we did that I kind of got obsessed with flavor and I really wanted to make an amazing vanilla ice cream. So, I focused on making really awesome vanilla. I didn’t really care about the texture; I was just looking for the flavor at that point. Once I did that, my wife actually said that she liked it. I made caramel and stuff like that, and she really thought it was good. So we got a commercial machine and then I started making it in my garage. I would bring it into work and I would have little tasting parties, and have people sample my ice cream. And then I would have them tell me what they liked about it, what they didn’t like about it, and then I would just go back to the drawing board. And that’s what I did.
You only use organic ingredients, right?
Is there a reason for that?
Yes. Because I don’t allow my kids to have any thing that’s not organic because the GMOs, pesticides, and the all the garbage. I don’t want them to be exposed to the stuff that is really not good for them. So, we want that to be available to as many people as possible. Also, ice cream is only five ingredients. It’s only milk, cream, sugar, eggs, and then fruit or chocolate, or whatever else you’re putting in it. But, it should only be those simple things. When you look at a container of ice cream at the store and it’s a paragraph, that’s probably something you want to walk away from. Because it’s mostly crap. There shouldn’t be anything in there that you can’t spell.
What is one thing that you now know, that you wish you knew when you started?
I guess how hard it is to run a business. You know, everyone said it would be a lot of work, but it really is a lot of work. I’m here everyday, I don’t shut the store down, except at night when I go home, so I’m here everyday. Definitely if you’re going to start a business you need to be prepared to be married to that business.
Where do you see Kai Lee Creamery in 1 year?
I’d like to see us have another shop, and I’d like to see a lot more people knowing about our shop. I think a lot of people are still just discovering us, and so I’m trying to get the word out, trying to get people to come down and give us a shot. Once they try it, they come back.
What do you do other than ice cream?
I draw, I sculpt, I paint, and I make monster toys. So, anything creative. I like making ice cream because it’s creative. I get to come up with different flavors and ways of making things!
How do you incorporate your love of monsters, comic books, and drawing into your business?
I would say, surrounding myself with those things while I’m here.
If you could have any superpower, what would it be and how would you use it?
Hmmm… Maybe control over time and space. So I could go anywhere in any time and see things. Not necessarily to mess with things, but just to go watch certain things transpire.
Kai Lee Creamery | 125 Ocean View Blvd #128, Pacific Grove, CA 93950