Rachel Steele

Rachel Steele

Ice Cream Maker

August 18, 2015


Rachel's Handmade Ice Cream


Tell us more about some of your past projects?

A lot of past projects were personal in nature and derived from devising ice cream flavors that would pair well with particular foods, dinners, desserts and parties.

I’ve enjoyed collaborating with other taste-makers in town to create flavors. Bleak House Coffee hand blends organic teas, and I mimicked the incredible mocha chai latte in a flavor using the house blend chai. Holey Toledough developed an old-fashioned chocolate doughnut for me to use in a coffee & doughnut flavor and people went nuts over it. I’ve also done several custom flavors to complement particular events.

In July I worked with bartenders Andrea and Allison of the Pub at Paula Brown Shop to come up with six original ice cream cocktails. It was really fun, the event was a major success and we are doing it again on September 26!

What current projects are you working on?

I am currently working on creating an ice cream subscription club so that the people of Toledo can enjoy monthly featured flavors of locally made ice cream made just for them. It’s a great way to get people excited about trying new flavors and for the community to learn about and try a local product.

What advantages does being in Northwest Ohio/Toledo offer your efforts?

Toledo surrounds me with friends and family that are a huge support to me and my efforts. People are personable here and I have found that even complete strangers go out of their way to offer help, encouragement, advice and support. That is not something I take for granted.


Tell us about one of your greatest successes.

It is difficult to pinpoint one success as the greatest. I feel a lot of success in little victories and to do’s that are mini-milestones for forming good habits and reaching long-term goals.

In terms of ice cream, I released a red velvet ice cream right after I started selling that I had thought about for years. I developed it to reflect WWII-era recipes, which were colored with beets. I was pretty thrilled at the overwhelming positive response because beets can be very polarizing. It gave me confidence that Toledo folks were ready for some palette pushing ice cream flavors.


Tell us who or what gives you inspiration?

Nature: tastes, smells, colors. Each person who included me in the kitchen as a child was an inspiration. Anyone who cooks for me inspires me.


Tell us about your background.

I grew up in Toledo. Growing up, I was pretty particular and restrictive about what I ate. My dad was always pushing the boundaries of flavors and urging us kids to try crazy combinations. I can remember even as a preschooler he would come up with flavor combinations that he would dare me to try. As an older child, I began to enjoy baking, and then cooking. My cooking style took new forms as I searched for ways to prepare foods that were previously unfamiliar. The ice cream experimentation began after my dear friend Alana gave me a duplicate wedding gift she received of a Cuisinart ice cream maker.

Throughout high school, college and beyond, I worked for a high-end bike shop that specialized in road bikes. I became an avid cyclist and road racer and spent several years racing the regional/national cyclo-cross circuit.

I attended University of Toledo and received a bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education. I have taught Kindergarten and now first grade for eight years in the Toledo area.


Do you have a motto or favorite quote you try to live by?

There are many. Here is one that hangs on my refrigerator: “Never succumb to the temptation of bitterness.” –MLK Jr.


Favorite place for local culture?

Downtown Toledo. 

Toledo’s “best kept secret” is . . .

Toledo Farmers’ Market is not nearly a secret, but I never cease to be surprised by the amount of people I meet who have never been. It’s a fabulous market!


My favorite place to chill locally is . . .

I spend a lot of time at Bleak House Coffee as it the home of Rachel’s Handmade Ice Cream, but I really do enjoy the atmosphere and food. Other than that, I like a few other hole-in-the-wall establishments where I can get a bite to eat with friends and remain fairly anonymous. I’ve really been enjoying the Pub at Paula Brown Shop lately, too!


My favorite natural space in the Toledo area is . . .

I am blessed to live in a house surrounded by nature, a fairly quiet space with the sights and sounds of almost every kind of wildlife our area offers. My favorite natural space is inside the most beautiful beech tree in my backyard. Every so often I climb it and chill out in the branches where nothing can bother me.


When I’m not working hard, I can always be found  . . . 

On my bike, on a squash court, thrifting, working on my house/yard, with friends or at the record store.


If you could change anything about the current landscape for creative, progressive people . . .

A lot of people seem to hang in their own parts of town and don’t travel the 10-20 minutes it takes to visit neighboring communities. I wish people weren’t stuck in their micro communities and were willing to leave their couches and comfort zones in order to support everything that is going on in our city. There is so much going on in and just outside of Toledo!


Any exciting collaborations (past or present) you would like to tell us about?

Toledo.com is hosting a flavor creation contest. A lot of people tell me about flavors they would like to taste and I hope this contest gets people dreaming.

The Pub at Paula Brown Shop hosted an ice cream social in July serving a variety of elaborate ice cream cocktails. We are going to collaborate for another ice cream social Saturday, September 26 and will reveal the winner of the flavor contest that day.


Name one person (living or deceased) who you would love to collaborate with.

David Liebovitz


Name a CD, book or website you can’t live without.

Miles Davis Walkin’. The first cut is amazing. It can take my stress level down to zero in 5:27.


Give us 5 Desert Island Album picks.

Miles Davis - Blue Haze

David Bowie - Hunky Dory

Nina Simone - High Priestess of Soul

Van Morrison - His Band and the Street Choir

Does a mix CD count? Because I would want a mix CD with every tune that gets me dancing from hoppity Leo Kottke and Etta James tunes to Hot Chip and Hercules Love Affair.


My biggest vice is . . .



I’d like to see __________ in Toledo.

More pedestrians.


What’s the last dream you recall having?

A typical nightmare about being unprepared for something, namely work.


The last lyric that moved me was . . .

It was something really open and raw a live performer sang that I heard recently in Ann Arbor. It was about a failed relationship. It brought tears to my eyes.


One movie character I identify with is . . .

I’m not a movie fan, so I do not have the slightest idea, however more than one person has told me I remind them of Rachael in Bladerunner.


The best gift I’ve ever received was . . .

I can’t think of a specific gift. It was probably something from my mother. She is really thoughtful and is a great gift giver.


My most inspiring moment was/is . . .

Always coming to me in a state of half slumber.


I want my last meal to be _______________.

Prepared by someone else and shared with people who love me.



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