Kemps plays pivotal role in TV hit “Celebrity Apprentice”

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Imagine all of the people in an office had to keep a secret. More than 300 employees at the Kemps facility in Rochester, Minn., managed to do it. The secret task involved helping contestants on NBC’s television show “Celebrity Apprentice” with their final challenge.

During the first-ever “All Star Celebrity Apprentice,” 14 contestants competed to win money for the charity of their choice. NBC executives planned to have the final two contestants battle head-to-head in an ice cream showdown, during which they had to create a new flavor of ice cream in one day. That’s where Kemps came in.

In August 2012, Kemps executives received a call from Walgreen’s, for which Kemps manufactures Delish ice cream. Walgreen’s representatives had a proposal from NBC.

The proposal involved assisting “Celebrity Apprentice” contestants in developing an ice cream flavor and manufacturing enough of those flavors to fill Walgreen’s store shelves all across the country. There was a catch — the Kemps team had only nine months to get the job done. That means they had hours to complete tasks that usually took weeks, and weeks to organize projects that usually took months.

“We knew this was going to be a challenge,” says Rachel Kyllo, Kemps senior vice president of sales and marketing. ”We also knew it would be interesting for people to see the process of making a new ice cream flavor.“

Logan Julstrom, research and development manager and culinary innovation chef, and Katie Halgerson, research and development food technologist, led the project for Kemps. They started with equipment planning and logistics.

With the help of the TV production team, they designed two remote on-camera food laboratories to use with the celebrities and an off-camera creation kitchen. The on-camera labs had room for staging and the necessary lighting for television. They designed the off-camera kitchen as the real work kitchen. It was where the women would do the bulk of their work together, blending enough ice cream for team sampling, sampling at a Walgreen’s and 300 guests at tasting parties. 

Location proved one of the biggest challenges. The Kemps equipment was in Minnesota, while the taping for “Celebrity Apprentice” took place in New York. The TV production crew solved part of the location challenge by renting space in the Institute of Culinary Education – New York. Then, the team laid out the plan to get 63 boxes, or 3,000 pounds of supplies to the make-shift ice cream factory.

The team brainstormed a list of all ingredients necessary to make ice cream and to accommodate the creativity of the celebrities.  They shipped two different ice cream mixes, a chocolate version and a vanilla version. They packaged all of the flavors, colors, swirls, candy pieces, nuts, fruits and other ingredients they thought the celebrities could use. Based on the ingredient list, the number of possible flavor combinations topped 15 million.