On the Menu

On the Menu September/October

by Mary Tutwiler

**Too Sweet
**Ice cream sales have scooped Kleinpeter Dairy into the top 100 dairy processors nationally.
Kleinpeter Dairy has been around since 1913, selling superior milk to the residents of Baton Rouge. Over time, the dairy and farm expanded, reaching out to adjacent communities with butter and cream. However, it took 95 years, until 2008, for fourth-generation President Jeff Kleinpeter to imagine churning his milk with Louisiana cane sugar and Pontchatoula strawberries into ice cream. Overnight, the little dairy in Baton Rouge made a giant leap onto what it hopes will become a national stage.

"Ice cream drives sales," says Kleinpeter. The company went from $33 million in sales in 2007 to $39 million today, and has just been listed in the nation's top 100 dairy processors. The ranking is according to finished dairy product sales for the most recently completed fiscal year. That's remarkable for a local business that sells almost entirely in Louisiana, with just a few retail locations in southern Mississippi.

That's the business end of this story, but the most exciting news for foodies is the five new flavors Kleinpeter just added to its line: Homemade Honey Pecan Vanilla, Homemade Bread Pudding, Ginger Snap, French Vanilla and Vanilla Bean join Cafe au Lait, Sweet Potato Pie and Bananas Foster in a roster of traditional Louisiana flavors. For locovores, the news is even better, because Kleinpeter sources all of its ingredients as close to home as it can get.

The Honey Pecan Vanilla uses local honey and pecans from Bergeron's orchards in New Roads. Abbeville's Steen's Syrup mill is the source for the molasses in the ginger cookies swirled into Ginger Snap ice cream. Those cookies are baked at Edible Enterprises, a kitchen incubator based in Norco, as is the bread pudding in the Homemade Bread Pudding ice cream.

Kleinpeter is as proud of collaborating with Louisiana's workforce as he is of the local flavors in his ice cream. "We help the economy by adding innovative new flavors made with fresh ingredients and using local people to make those ingredients. What could be better?" Kleinpeter says. - Mary Tutwiler