BAR HARBOR — Touting fearless flavor and an irresistible aesthetic, the Mount Desert Island Ice Cream Company has tempted our nation’s commander-in-chief, earned top honors from foodies and, most recently, is slated to appear on ABC’s The View in an episode featuring five of the best ice cream makers in the U.S.
In the show, which is scheduled to air on Tuesday, July 3, at 11 a.m., Linda Parker, owner of MDI Ice Cream, joins fellow creamers from Bubbies in Hawaii, Hanks in Austin, Texas, Graeters in Ohio, and Serendipity 3 in New York City – purveyor of a $1,000 sundae – to discuss their products on the program.
“Basically, what happened is, less than a week before I appeared on The View, I got a phone call from ABC asking if I can send ice cream down by Friday. It was Tuesday,” said Ms. Parker, in between errands on behalf of her two packed storefronts: the MDI Ice Cream location at 7 Firefly Lane and at 325 Main Street. “I’m used to getting random media requests, but The View’s phone call, that was really out of nowhere.”
Producers on the show put Ms. Parker on a flight to New York the following Sunday, but en route, the airline lost her bags.
“At least the ice cream made it,” she said cheerily. “The only bummer was, I had to wake up and be on the show in my existing clothes.”
Ms. Parker explained that the segment was hosted by Sherri Shepherd and Mark Summers as part of a pre-taped portion.
“Being part of a semi-live TV production was in itself really exciting,” she said. “Seeing all the prep and the rehearsal was really cool.”
As part of the segment, the host asked its participants to feature three flavors. Ms. Parker chose MDI Ice Cream’s Bay of Figs, Salt Brigadero, and Atlantic Brewing Stout with Fudge.
“They are all my favorite best-selling flavors,” said Ms. Parker. “And there’s a fun story behind all of them.”
She explained that Bay of Figs came from an ice cream naming contest hosted by her husband’s class about the Cold War at College of the Atlantic.
“They decided off-handedly to have this contest and Bay of Figs came out of it,” she said. “As for the stout, it’s inspired by our local, island brewery, and the inspiration for Salt Brigadero comes from a deep love I have for Brazil.”
Ms. Parker, who believes the show contacted her based on MDI Ice Cream’s inclusion in a 2011 Food & Wine list of the top 25 ice cream stores in the country, says she is grateful for the recognition.
“Obviously it feels great,” she said. “But I feel it’s indicative of a lot of hard work, a labor of love. We’re going into our seventh year, and being a small business person, it’s really nice to get accolades like this.”
MDI Ice Cream is famous for its unexpected but well-balanced flavor pairings, hormone-free ingredients, and scratch process. All of MDI Ice Cream’s flavors are made at the rate of no more than five-gallons at a time.
“It’s really important to me to make the most honest product I can,” said Ms. Parker. “Which means using great milk, great cream, with inclusions: real fruit, real flavor, real chocolate. We do sometimes like to pair things that are unexpected and different, but never to be sensational, only to really elevate the flavor.”
Ms. Parker discussed her quest to perfect the classic flavors of vanilla bean and chocolate.
“I spent years finding the best chocolate and what I’ve decided on is Callebeaut’s extra dark cocoa,” she said, speaking of the famous single-source chocolate maker. “Chocolate is one of the hardest flavors to do really well. Vanilla bean too; we found that Madagascar vanilla bean imparts the best flavor, after lots of searching.”
Prior to sourcing ingredients from across the globe, Ms. Parker worked as a Web and multi-media developer in Boston. She made her move to Maine full-time in 2004.
“It took an epiphany to realize, ‘oh, I can do this, I can follow my dream,’” she said. “I’ve never looked back. It’s a great career.”
When reflecting on some of the most memorable feedback she’s gotten about her desserts, Ms. Parker paused.
“You know, I think the most poignant compliment I’ve ever gotten was actually from Michelle Obama,” said Ms. Parker. “When she was here, she got chocolate. I think she probably gets chocolate as her go-to flavor. She had a few bites, looked up at me, and said ‘this is really good.’ It wasn’t forced or false, just really heartfelt. That was a good moment.”