The cardiovascular system of the Valley's locally-produced food world recently experienced an increase in heart rate when Shannon Dufresne, owner of Crave Artisan Ice Cream, announced she was calling it quits.
"My decision is by choice, not circumstance," Dufresne tells me. "After three years of only making ice cream, I was becoming frustrated. My passion for artisan foods is bigger than that."
Dufresne, who has a culinary degree and worked under sweet-treat queen Tracy Dempsey before establishing Crave, her successful home made ice cream haven of artistic flavors and fresh ingredients sold by Valley restaurants such as Beckett's Table, Phoenix Public Market, and Luci's Healthy Marketplace, says she's stopped production, closed up her kitchen, and that her clients have about a month's worth of product left to serve (translation: get Crave ice cream while you can.)
Dufresne tells me the experience of being an artisan food producer has positioned her well for the next step in her career, something she feels is much-needed in today's world of processed foods and poor eating habits.
Dufresne is planning to launch a blog whose concept is, "to bridge the gap between the chef and foodie and the average person." Along with educating folks on artisan foods and artisan food creators, Dufresne will offer in-home cooking classes (think Jamie Oliver) focused on healthy eating, buying the best local foods, and reading labels.
"It [the blog] will be anything from talking about Tracy Dempsey's bacon brittle, to places you can find handcrafted, local foods, to classes on how to make your own bagels, pizza, even ice cream, from scratch," Defresne says. "Since I'm coming from within the food industry, I'm hoping to use my food producer and chef connections to write about the latest artisan food trends."
Dufresne adds the yet-to-be-named blog, which she hopes to launch in the next few months, will have Crave in the name somewhere, and will combine her culinary degree with her love of teaching (Dufresne also holds a masters degree in Education, a BA in English, and taught for five or six years before launching Crave.)
And while her clients are sad Crave is no more, Dufresne seems liberated.
"I feel like I did what I set out to do. It's a good ending. Now I can move on to the next step."
Something tells me her fans will be right behind her.