We chatted with Scott Shoemaker, Head Flavourologist of Yogurtland.
1. Tell us about Yogurtland
Yogurtland opened its first location in 2006, introducing a new approach to self-service frozen yogurt – allowing customers to select from 16 premium flavours with a vast array of toppings. You may see others offer self-service but all are a flattering copy of what Yogurtland started eight years ago. Something else that sets Yogurtland apart from the rest is our own, proprietary flavours, made from real ingredients sourced from their original locations, such as Madagascar vanilla beans from Madagascar and Maqui Berry from Patagonia. No other yoghurt chain offers such original flavours and exciting combinations such as Salted Caramel Pecan, Blackberry Passion Fruit, Lychee, and Dragon Passion Fruit.
2. What does a head flavourologist do?
I have an amazing staff that assists me as we search for new, innovative and cravable flavours. We have developed a philosophy here in the Product Development Department at Yogurtland which is “an empathetic pallet”. We first do a lot of investigating to understand what people expect in a flavour. For example, not everyone likes the same kind of mango, yet they each expect to find the mango that they have come to know in their lifetime in our Yogurtland flavour. We accomplish this by blending several mangos from around the world so that our customers can find the flavour that they expect. Our goal is to “evoke an emotional response in our customers – that “aha” moment when they recognise the flavour they expect. So my job is to manage this process, learn what our customers want, taste flavour ingredients to match those expectations and test each batch of product that is produced to make sure it meets our standards.
3. What is your most popular selling frozen yoghurt?
Our most popular flavour is different in each location. In California, plain tart is our most popular, everyday flavour. In other parts of the US and Australia, dutch chocolate, Madagascar vanilla, and strawberry are the most popular. We have special flavours that are also very popular, depending on the time of year – such as chocolate milkshake, salted caramel Pecan and strawberry lemonade sorbet.
4. What do you love about frozen yoghurt?
The versatility of the flavour option is great. We’ve created over 100 different flavours and we still have lots more to share with our customers. I like that we can provide our customers with a bit of indulgence and a healthier alternative that other treats – in a non-fat base and with live and active probiotics.
5. What is your favourite flavour combination?
My personal favourite is toasted coconut with fresh fruit. It’s one of my regular go-to servings.
6. Which frozen yoghurt is your favourite to make and to eat?
I like the nut butters with caramel. Besides salted caramel pecan, we have caramel almond bar and others under development.
7. What’s the biggest mistake people make when preparing dessert?
The two most common shortcomings are not planning ahead and the quality of ingredients. You will never get better than the quality of ingredients in the mix.
8. Best piece of cooking advice.
When I cook, I always read several recipes before I start. What I end up with is usually a combination of the different recipes. My other advice, take a chance. Mistakes are great learning opportunities.
9. What’s your favourite cooking product?
I actually have three favourites – my spices and cheeses. I am careful to search for the most flavourful spices. Often I will create my own. I am a big fan of Latin style foods. I search for flavourful spices, never keeping them long so that they are always robust in flavour. I roast my own chillis, never buying canned or mixes. I am famous with my friends and family for cheese blends in my cooking, even for something as simple as a grilled cheese sandwich.
10. Do you have a favourite cookbook?
I have quite an eclectic collection. I am a fan of chefs such as Thomas Keller and Rick Bayless and have several cookbooks from both chefs. My favourite cookbook, however, is the Internet. There is so much information available to all and so much creativity that is shared.
Thank you Scott Shoemaker, Yogurtland for taking the time to talk to us.