Trying to please a crowd has always been an interest of Brian Smith. Until relatively recently Smith was attempting to make people happy writing science fiction movies and directing audio books. But something about those endeavors just did not completely satisfy him.
"At the end of 12 hours a day I was never certain I had written any good sentences, you know? It's a silly thing, but at the end of 12 hours I kind of have a good idea whether I have made good ice cream or not," said Smith.
Today Smith is the proprietor of the Ample Hills Creamery in Prospect Heights. Smith and his wife Jackie Cuscuna opened the shop together about one year ago, and have already been lauded as one of New York’s highest rated ice cream parlors by the Zagat Food Lover’s Guide.
The couple began their enterprise selling flavors with catchy names like, “Strawberries and Cream," “Flutzel Nutter,” and “Cotton Candy,” but soon moved into a permanent site at Vanderbilt and St. Marks Avenues.
"It's been a trip. We didn't know what to expect. We thought it could be amazing or it could be a big flop, and it was just more than we ever expected," said Cuscuna.
Smith believes the secret of their success is the freshness of the homemade ice cream and the quality of the ingredients. The ingredients are pasteurized on site, one of the only ice cream shops to do so. Most other shops rely on a pre-packaged dairy mix.
“That process means cracking thousands of eggs a week and separating them out and combining milk and cream and sugar," said Smith.
Smith and Cuscuna would like to see Ample Hills expand with another branch somewhere in Brooklyn within the coming year. They are going to maintain the same high standards of quality of product and happy atmosphere as Ample Hills in Prospect Heights has now. The name “Ample Hills” comes from a poem written by Brooklyn native Walt Whitman.
"We want to offer ice cream making classes, ice cream summer camp. You know, kids come in for a week and they learn how to make ice cream, they go home with an ice cream cake," said Smith.
"Ice cream is fun, so we just want to keep that vibe going and the whole community spirit as well," said Cuscuna.
There is no doubt that Smith is bringing joy to many with his successful endeavor in the heart of Brooklyn.