Dr. Maya Warren is a professional ice cream scientist working to bring ice cream to people all over the world with unique flavors. When many people think of science, hardly do they picture an ice cream scientist. However, Warren is earning a living as one.
As a child, she had a knack for mixing things but did not directly link it to chemistry at the time. She told Mental Floss that she even tried to replicate the green Gak from Nickelodeon by using glue and food coloring.
It was in high school, however, that she fell in love with chemistry and decided to pursue it at a higher level with hopes of someday being a chemistry teacher but things changed after watching the Food Network’s Unwrapped in the living room of her friend. Initially, she had not thought of the science of food until she saw how, in that episode of the program, soda was made to taste like the traditional Thanksgiving meal. A light bulb went off in her head, and her journey to becoming a food scientist began.
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She then pursued her Ph.D. in food science at UW Madison under the mentorship of Dr. Richard Hartel. In 2014, Warren participated in CBS’ “The Amazing Race” Season 25 with her former lab mate and friend Dr. Amy DeJong, becoming the 3rd female-female team to win the show.
Shortly after her win, recruiters from Cod Stone Creamery got in touch with her. Wanting to take time off after finishing six and half years of grad school, Warren was not looking for a job but the job fell on her lap literally.
“They noticed that I’m a scientist, and they were looking for someone with my background,” Warren recalled.
Today, Warren is the senior director for international research and development for Cold Stone Creamery where she oversees ice cream mixes and establishes diaries for countries around the world while creating new flavors based on popular local ingredients.
“Cold Stone has locations all over the world, and they all need ice cream mixes. But sometimes bringing that ice cream from the United States into that country is extremely expensive, because of conflicts, because of taxes, different importation laws,” she told Mental Floss. “A lot of what I do is helping those countries figure out how they can build their own dairies, or how can they work with local dairies to make ice cream mixes more affordable.”
What Warren loves about her job the most is being able to curate products that people enjoy and seeing them being eaten. The other aspect is introducing her favorite dessert to people across the globe who would have otherwise never had the chance to enjoy it. She also loves the fact that she is helping others earn a living by making their own ice cream.
But some are amazed when they discover that she is an ice cream scientist. “…It doesn’t matter how old the person is, they can’t believe it,” she said.
Warren was traveling the world, teaching, developing, creating and certainly enjoying her favorite treat when the coronavirus pandemic struck.
In need of a way to connect with people and still do what she does best, she created and began hosting ‘Ice Cream Sundays with Dr. Maya’ on Instagram Live where to date she teaches people how to make No-Churn Ice Cream from the comfort of their homes.
Warren recently co-founded ‘Ice Cream for Change,’ “a platform of ice cream makers and lovers advocating for social change and civic action.”