The sign on the door says "Chief Creative Officer," but for Tyler Malek, co-founder of cult ice creamery Salt & Straw, work means sampling 15 to 20 varieties of each new ice cream at the company's R&D kitchen, where such flavors as Arbequina Olive Oil and Honey Lavender were born.
Salt & Straw was launched in 2011 by Tyler and his cousin, CEO Kim Malek, who recruited him out of culinary school to compose flavors for the Portland, Oregon-based operation. Soon, Tyler was hanging out with brewers and chefs and translating their heady conversations into ice cream creations like India Pale Ale (made with dry-hopped vodka), Brown Ale & Bacon, and Bone Marrow & Smoked Cherries. He had the scoop shop tinkering with traditional ice cream recipes, even swapping milk and cream for olive oil and duck fat.
Portlanders went crazy for Tyler's adventurous tastes. Nine years later, Salt & Straw has 21 scoop shops in six West Coast cities, and Shake Shack founder Danny Meyer is an investor and board member.
"Ice cream flavors change drastically from the time you take your first bite to the time you finish a pint," says Tyler, who sometimes lets a container sit out for 30 minutes to taste how the flavor escalates.
The patience is worth it, he says: "I got into this to bring people together. The world needs ice cream right now."