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Meet Dylan Lemay.
This week, I’d like to introduce you to Dylan Lemay. If you, like me, are a fan of Rich Roll’s Roll On episodes with Adam Skolnick, you’ll immediately recognize Dylan as “the ice cream guy.” Why is he dubbed the ice cream guy? Well, Dylan has been in the ice cream business for half his life. He started at Cold Stone Creamery, where he quickly worked his way up to store manager. Then, during quarantine, he began posting videos of himself scooping ice cream and decorating ice cream cakes while chatting about this and that, but rarely showing his face. And his videos almost always went viral, accruing hundreds of millions of views–EACH.
I know what you’re thinking–what’s the big deal about ice cream? That’s just it. Ice cream, by itself, isn’t really a big deal. But somehow, this 26-year-old has amassed a community that’s over 15 million strong. How did he do it? On this week’s podcast, I peel back the layers in hopes of uncovering the secret to Dylan’s enormous success. But before checking out our conversation, I wanted to share a short story about why I personally find Dylan to be so extraordinary.
Catch’N Me When I Fall.
Last summer, just a few days after my dog Rudy died, I flew to NYC for one night to celebrate the grand opening of my friend’s ice cream shop. Dylan had been toiling away for months to get Catch’N open by summer, signing the lease on a storefront in Noho, meeting with vendors and suppliers across the country, sourcing solid non-dairy milks for his vegan flavors, and finally, getting behind the counter of his very own shop to train his team on how to serve up ice cream in much the same way he’d been doing for half his life as a store manager at Cold Stone Creamery. But instead of scooping ice cream from buckets, Catch’N’s glass display held perfectly round ice cream spheres coated in chocolate and encrusted with Oreo cookies, dried strawberries, cereal, and other nostalgic goodies. After hugging me hello, Dylan invited me behind the counter to show me how to press the heavy steel scoopers into my vegan ice cream ball until it broke, and how to then mash it all up until the ice cream grew supple and pliable, before depositing it neatly into a small, biodegradable cup.
Even as I laughed for the cameras and dove enthusiastically into my ice cream creation for Dylan’s sake, I carried a hot coal inside of me, one that threatened to burn a hole through my chest. The wound from my dog’s death was still raw, quivering, but it was Dylan’s day and I wanted to be there for him. As I watched Dylan mash ice cream balls, wipe crumbs off his brand new counter, greet fans, give interviews to the press, and wrap his lanky arms around friends who came to say “hi,” all while his mom and dad quietly ensured that scoopers were cleaned and dried, supplies were tucked away in the back, everything was where it was supposed to be so their 25-year-old son could be the star that his investors were counting on him to be, I took a spoonful of my ice cream, let it dissolve slowly on my tongue, hoping its cool softness would reach into my toes. I thought about a quote I read from one of my favorite authors:
To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give it to no one and nothing, not even an animal. You must carefully wrap it round with hobbies and little luxuries and routine and avoidances of entanglement, and then lock it up in the casket or coffin of your own selfishness. And this means that in the long run, the alternative to tragedy, or at least to the threat of tragedy, is damnation, for in that casket – safe, still, and unventilated in the darkness – it will go bad; not broken, but finally unbreakable, impenetrable, resistant to all good and joy…. – C.S. Lewis
Rejection, whether from your parents, your boyfriend, or the girl you meet for coffee at the vegan croissant shop–all of it hurts. But sometimes, we guard ourselves not just from the sharp repudiation of rejection, but just the mess of it all. If only all our relationships could be as tidy as my color coded sock drawer, as spotless as Dylan’s new countertops. But life doesn’t work that way. Often times, even after the fire has been put out, we are left to clean up the ashes. And however scary it might be to open the doors to that wreckage, I’m not sure I want to find out what happens to me if I try and continue to do it alone.
That night, Dylan met up with all of us at a bar to celebrate the launch of his dream. He sauntered in looking not so much a dashing dream chaser, but as a candle down to the very last centimeter of its wick. He remained quiet amid the celebration, and I instantly wished we were back in my Chicago home, where he’d often crash during his business trips. Often, we would stay up into the wee hours, and he’d listen to all my anxieties spill out of me like a vial of jelly beans–about quitting my partner job, going full-time as a content creator, or “living the dream,” as he often called it. When my book came out a couple years ago, he showed up at the launch and called it my “Book Wedding” with a smile I can’t ever forget.
Later, we left the bar early, along with a mutual friend of ours. On the walk back, we took a selfie together, and there was something about that act–taking a picture to memorialize not the opening of the ice cream shop, but the joy of being with people who could translate our exhaustion, anxiety, and yes, even our grief, as competently as native speakers–that allowed me to lean back, as far as I needed to.
Because I knew I wouldn’t fall.
Episode 38: Getting Vulnerable with Dylan Lemay
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This Week’s Recipe Inspo.
In case you’re not already following The Korean Vegan YouTube Channel, there’s a brand new recipe up! It’s my favorite red sauce and the pasta I love to make with it. Check it out and add it to this week’s dinner plans–you won’t regret it!
The Korean Vegan Kollective
In addition to the thousands of customizable plant-based recipes housed in The Korean Vegan Kollective (all with a complete nutritional breakdown), I’m regularly adding exclusive articles and videos to assist you in leading your best plant-based life! Here are a few recent additions that you may be interested in:
- Where to Eat in NYC – Anthony and I were in New York last month and we were once again blown away by the incredible and ever-growing wealth of plant-based eateries there. Here are some of our favorites.
- Let’s Make Leftovers In My Fridge Breakfast Wrap – We eat a lot of burritos in our house! Here’s a short tutorial video with some tips for preparing this specific recipe, as well as burritos in general.
- Carbohydrates! – A deep dive into the world of this sometimes misunderstood macronutrient, complete with links to recipe recommendations and information on how to go “low carb” in the Kollective.
Updates and Random Things.
- What I’m Watching. Not surprisingly, we are still knee-deep in Blacklist, but when Anthony’s too busy to watch TV with me, I’ve been turning to a well-written, well-acted, and very funny Korean drama: Diary of a Prosecutor. I really loved the main actor in My Mister, and therefore, following his slightly lisp-y narration of the life of a Korean prosecutor in a small, rural town has been delightful. If you’re trying to watch something that doesn’t make you want to hate the world (like The Glory), this one’s for you!
- Vegan Handbags. A LOT of you seemed really interested in the vegan cheese company, Climax Bio, that I referenced in last week’s newsletter, so I thought I’d introduce you to another vegan goodie – this one in the fashion realm. I had the chance to meet with Remy, @veggiekins, and Freja NYC – a vegan handbag company started just a few years ago. Their vegan leather is soft and supple and their handbags are elegant and well-designed. If you need gift ideas, I highly recommend you check them out!
- Vegan Women’s Summit. I am so thrilled about being invited back to Vegan Women’s Summit this spring! It’ll be from May 18-20 in New York City and tickets are going FAST! There’s an incredible lineup of AMAZING women activists and entrepreneurs in the vegan space, so if you’re in the area or even willing to travel for it, get your tickets now!!
That’s a wrap everyone!! See you next week!