For more than 20 years, Dale Koehl and his family have made the WWOZ Mango Freeze served at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival as a fundraiser for the community radio station. Koehl works in contruction and real estate, and Mango Freeze is a seasonal avocation for him. WWOZ FM General Manager David Freedman estimates sales of the sorbet have raised more than half a million dollars for the station.
How did you become the Mango Freeze maker?
Koehl: 'OZ was trying to do it 22 or 23 years ago. They were trying to do it in-house. They had a tabletop machine, an ice cream machine that would make a couple of quarts, and it didn't work out. Then they turned it over to someone else, and he came to us because we had an ice cream and sorbet business. We took it and fixed it and made it a good product. Then they asked me to run the booth. When we started, we just had a couple of 4-foot freezers. Now we keep 90 (5-gallon) buckets on the grounds at all times.
My wife (Diane) used to make customized ice cream and sorbet for white-tablecloth restaurants in town. She had a business called Gourmet Sorbet and there was a retail line at Whole Foods Market and high-end places. Now, we do it exclusively for WWOZ. Quintin (of Quintin's Natural) lets us use his facility. And we do some production year round. It's available at Rouses (on Carrollton Avenue only) and Morning Call.
We have tried to do it at other festivals. We do French Quarter Festival now. We did one in Washington D.C. one year. Getting it there is the challenge. They tried talking me into doing Bonnaroo. I'd like to do Hangout Music Fest on the [Gulf] coast, truthfully. It's closer. It makes more sense.
Do you have a special recipe?
K: It's pretty easy. It's mango, water and sugar. It's made with a mango puree. We make it in a gelato machine so the consistency is smoother.
How much do you serve over the festival's seven days?
K: We make it as we go. You never know what's going to happen, like if it rains, and we don't want WWOZ stuck with 55 buckets of it. So we make it as we go and try to only make enough to get through the whole thing. The last week, if we have to run 24 hours to make enough, we run 24 hours. We made 175 5-gallon buckets for the first weekend. We started working Saturday for the second weekend. We only make as much as 'OZ is going to need.