Ditta Kasdan has already made 100 litres of ice cream this morning, what have you done today?
Today and every day throughout the summer Dee Dee’s Ice Cream takes on the physically demanding task of making 100 litres of their fabulous frozen flavours, seven days a week. Although production slows down during winter (not even 100 litres per a week), Ditta herself has probably made about 40,000 litres of ice cream in her career so far.
But it didn’t all start in 2004 when she opened a seasonal location in Peggy’s Cove followed by a year-round eatery in the North End in 2010. Ditta has been creating ice cream since she began experimenting with flavours on her students before she retired from teaching.
She spent a whole year learning, and took a gelato course in Texas that inspired the purchase of the Italian equipment she uses in her shop today.
One of the most impressive things about Dee Dee’s success is that Ditta launched the endeavor without any formal business training (if you don’t count her experience selling silver earrings in high school).
“I just had a background in math and an entrepreneurial family,” she says, “but I’m not really a risky person, I couldn’t have made Dee Dee’s without the the support of my family and friends.”
support that she aims to replicate with the way she conducts business and each person she hires.
“The health of the community is made up of things like affordable housing, access to healthcare, and I think employment is another thing that helps everyone benefit,” she says.
Ditta is a person who practices what she preaches, whether that’s divesting from big banks or employing locals, her money is where her mouth is. She currently employs 16 people from the community during the summer.
“I have a commitment to the community,” she says, “I think it’s so important to hire African Nova Scotians, Mi'kmaq, and North Enders.”And so she does.
But her leadership in the community goes beyond dismantling systemic oppression one local hire at a time, she also invests in the simple joy of delivering smiles on hot summer days, one scoop of ice cream at a time.
Dee Dee’s is known for diverse flavours inspired by local ingredients and local suggestions, like Mexican, Raspberry Passionfruit Sorbet, or Rum & Raisin; Ditta says her current favourite is seasonal strawberry rhubarb. She did disclose that chocolate is the best seller all year, but in the summer it’s all about the berries and seasonal fruit.
It’s the commitment to using real ingredients, locally grown where possible, that sets Dee Dee’s apart. From burritos to coffee, it’s organic beans and small farm meat, so they can truly boast: ‘Only real foods make it into our kitchen and only ice cream of unreal taste makes it out.’