When someone thinks about gelato, they generally think of an Italian ice cream treat that is creamy, sweet, and indulgent. Kailey Donewald, Founder and CEO of Sacred Serve, located in Chicago, IL, has created deliciously sinful plant-based gelato to fuel your body and satisfy your taste buds. Offered in retailers such as Whole Foods Market and Earth Fare, Sacred Serve recently updated their packaging with the first plastic-free, 100% recyclable, compostable, and biodegradable ice cream carton.
Joey Thurman: Kailey Donewald. Look at that, I pronounced it correctly. Kailey Donewald: Absolutely. Joey Thurman: Yes. Okay. And CEO and founder of Sacred Serve, a non-dairy gelato. Kailey Donewald: Correct. Joey Thurman: Is that possible? Kailey Donewald: It's possible and we've done it. Yeah. Joey Thurman: You've done it? That's why we're here? Kailey Donewald: That's why we're here. Joey Thurman: Amazing. So let's take it back and why start a gelato that really comes from plants? Kailey Donewald: Yeah. So really the story is my own personal journey healing through a plant-based diet. So I grew up suffering really severe cases of both asthma and allergies, and every doctor told me I was born with these conditions. It would need medicine for the rest of my life, but then when I was 25 years old, I was living in Bali, Indonesia and embarked on a two week raw food cleanse, so really just fresh fruits and vegetables for about two weeks. And within that short amount of time period, my body completely healed itself of both asthma and allergies. So it really opened my eyes to just the power of a plant-based diet and I felt very motivated to change the root cause of that, which was just the food being offered to consumers. Joey Thurman: Right. So when you do that two weeks, and what's the point from, you're 25 years old, to the point now? How did you really come to this point of having something that is major allergen-free and uses coconut meat and actually tastes good, which is really hard to do, especially when people think gelato? I bet if you say there is no dairy in here. I don't want to have it. It's like my Southern Missouri family, if I said it was gluten free, like I'm not going to eat this thing, put some more gluten in there. I mean, what's the storyline there? Kailey Donewald: From my standpoint, really targeting the most dairy sugar-laden category that there is, proving we can do it in a nutrient-dense way, but the main ingredient we work with is young coconut meat. And so that comes from Bali, Thailand, areas over there, and that's where I first discovered it. And so my thought process was chefs were doing a lot of crazy things with this young coconut meat abroad, and no one was doing anything here in the states and it's really this great dairy meat alternative. And so I got together with my friend, who's a raw food chef and we worked out some recipes kind of using that as the base, which was great. Joey Thurman: Let's talk about the superfoods that go into your food because a lot of times people aren't aware of nutrient density. Maybe we backtrack on what is nutrient density to you? Kailey Donewald: Two things that I saw really when I went through nutrition school is, first everything that comes in a box, so everything in the center of the store, is what we call nutrient devoid because a lot of those micronutrients have been destroyed by heat in the manufacturing process. So you're always going to get calories, protein and fats, macro nutrients, but micronutrients is such a limited conversation that we're having, which is essentially the building blocks to health. And so what we're really doing is we're cold crafting our product. We're making sure that we're starting with raw, real nutrient-dense ingredients and the way we're processing it, not removing those and making sure that they're still bioavailable for consumers. Joey Thurman: Yeah. That makes sense. And you guys are on the perimeter? Kailey Donewald: We would like to be on the perimeter. We're in the frozen aisle, but we're always thinking about how can we get secondary placement, whether that's a countertop freezer or some type of messaging and fresh, because to that point, I think a lot of our healthy consumers might not even be walking down the center aisle because they just know there's nothing for me in ice cream till now, but they just think that there isn't. Yeah. Joey Thurman: See what she did with that? Until now. It's almost like you're the CEO of your own company. Kailey Donewald: Maybe, yeah. Joey Thurman: And you've had interviews before and you've thought about this. Kailey Donewald: I think about it a lot. Yeah. Joey Thurman: Very good. Okay. How would you explain adaptogens to people? Kailey Donewald: Yeah. They are herbs, potent herbs, medicinal herbs that really help the body kind of assimilate to stress and resist against some of the negative side effects of that. And so they all have their own unique properties. Like Maca, for example, is an adaptogen that we use, which is really beneficial for hormone health, balancing hormones. It's also kind of a natural stimulant. It gives you a little bit of energy in there, but essentially when we say beneficial for hormones, it's not putting testosterone or estrogen into your body where sometimes people will think. It's more helping your body recognize what it's low in and supporting it in kind of bringing it back into balance. Joey Thurman: Yeah. It's helping that symbiotic process, say Maca helps with testosterone levels and all sorts of different things, and those adaptogens are going to be good for free radical damage and just basically if your body starts working well internally, you're going to look good externally, which we all want to as well. Kailey Donewald: Exactly. Joey Thurman: It's all right. And then the containers, you took a lot of time to develop your containers. Kailey Donewald: When I first started this company was when I first even realized that no ice cream pints are recyclable. And the reason for that everyone thinks they look like just paperboard. What's the problem, but there's really a plastic lining that goes on the inside as a moisture barrier. And so I was kind of distraught to learn that when I first started and thought here, I'm making this really good for the body, good for the earth product. How can I put it in something that is hurtful to the environment? So we originally launched with what kind of looks like a takeout box, kind of fold top on the top, but really that reduces the amount of material needed. So it was a slightly more sustainable option, and then as of just last month, we were able to finally upgrade and launch really the first ever 100% plastic free version of an ice cream carton. So now they are fully recyclable, compostable and biodegradable as well.