Future's So Bright
by Emily Kovach
Ice cream trucks may be an iconic symbol of summer in the city, but are they really worth celebrating? Nostalgia may inspire a moment of happiness, and there is something wonderful about being out in the world and having dessert come to you, but the ice creams vended from the small windows are rarely of quality, and let’s not even get started about the maddening music on loop.
Bright Yellow Creamery, a Philly-based company in its second year, takes everything that’s great about an ice cream truck and ditches the rest. From the cutest little daffodil-yellow pop-top vending mobile, its cart-on-wheels hits a glorious retro-future aesthetic note with its sweet curves and simple design. The ice creams scooped from the refrigerated interior follow suit: all-natural, unfussy flavors that speak to times passed, with a focus on ingredient sourcing that’s thoroughly modern.
“I try to keep it as classic at possible; we don’t do any eccentric flavors,” says owner Steve Dorcelien. “[Our flavors aren’t] breaking the mold, but I’m trying to use the best ingredients to bring out that pronounced flavor. I want it to be like a shot in the mouth.”
Dorcelien’s journey began a few years ago when his girlfriend, Rachel Hunt, gifted him a consumer-model Cuisinart ice cream maker. At the time, the couple was living in New York City, and Dorcelien was working in marketing. For fun, he’d whip up batches of homemade ice cream and bring them to parties and potlucks, and soon enough, friends and family were clamoring for more.
In January 2017, the couple relocated to Philadelphia for Hunt’s work, and Dorcelien decided that his new city was the right place to launch an ice cream company. He enrolled in an ice cream making course at Penn State (a popular program for local dessert artisans), which he said was integral in making the leap from home hobbyist to professional culinary creator.
“I’m not a chef by background,” he notes, “but my food knowledge stems from my mother’s cooking, and she was all about taking what she grew in the garden and putting it into food. That’s where my passion comes from.”
The choice to operate Bright Yellow Creamery out of a unique vending cart was one of economics and aesthetics. “I couldn’t afford a truck at the time and didn’t want a massive unit,” he says. “And I wanted something that would stand out.”
Every week during warm weather, you can find it at farmers markets: Saturdays at Rittenhouse, Thursdays at University City and Wednesdays at 10th and Chestnut streets, as well as occasional smaller festivals. In its second year, the brand is growing: Pints of its ice cream, made with milk from Trickling Springs and as many local products as possible (like honey from Fruitwood Orchard and fruit from Taproot Farm) are for sale in Green Aisle Grocery; it’s in the process of adding a second cart to the fleet; and Dorcelien recently hired his first employee. They also get plenty of catering gigs for special events and weddings.
He loves the way the cart allows him to be on the ground, mixing it up with his customers. “I want to be on the ground and be able to really talk to the people … the cart allows that intimacy,” Dorcelien notes. “I love people and I love food, so it’s a great opportunity for me.”