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Meet The Maker: Duchessa Gelato

Photos Provided By Duchessa Gelato

If you ask us about the ultimate comfort food (and one by a regional maker as a bonus) we have been next-level obsessed with Duchessa Gelato – especially their blueberry cheesecake gelato. OMG!

Meet the maker herself and then go try some to make your 2020 level up.

Tell us about yourself:

My name is Maartje Murphy and I am originally from the Netherlands, but I currently live in Carrington, North Dakota. My family moved from the Netherlands to Canada in 2001, when I was seven. In 2008, we moved to Carrington, North Dakota. We were dairy farmers in the Netherlands, Canada and now Carrington. I graduated high school from Carrington in 2013 and went to the University of North Dakota to study nursing.

After graduation, I worked in the emergency department at Sanford in Fargo for two
and a half years. My husband and I recently moved back to Carrington and purchased a farmstead where we will continue to grow our business “Cows and Co Creamery/Duchessa Gelato.” My husband is a full-time physical therapist in Carrington and helps me with my business whenever he can.

Describe what you create under Duchessa?

I make artisanal gelato with farm-fresh milk from our family dairy farm! I have made over 100 different flavors and continue to make new ones. I serve the gelato from an authentic Italian gelato cart at weddings, farmer’s markets, business meetings, graduations and for basically whoever wants to hire us! I have also started monthly deliveries to several cities around the state. The customers order via our website the first week of each month!

Your personal favorite flavor you’ve created so far?

I love the traditional Italian flavors such as Hazelnut, Pistachio, Gianduja and Stracciatella. We have recently created a Sweet Yogurt Amarena Cherry gelato, which is absolutely amazing!

How did your family’s dairy farm lead you to create a gelato business?

Dairy farming has been in my family for several generations. My parents and two older brothers are very passionate about their farm, cows and business. They have been awarded every single year for producing high-quality milk. I loved being raised on a dairy farm, but never truly had an interest in being the dairy farmer. However, I have always loved and had an interest in dairy products. Since I am from the Netherlands, we travel back once or twice a year to visit family. Just like Italy, the Netherlands has gelato shops everywhere! We would go get gelato nightly when we are visiting and I have always thought it would be so fun to bring a gelato shop back to North Dakota since we do not have anyone that is making artisanal gelato with farm fresh milk!

What’s coming up next?

Like I stated earlier, we are in the process of building on a new farm creamery. We
are expanding into the cheese-making world. Since I am from the Netherlands it only felt right to start with Gouda cheese! At the beginning of 2020, I went back to the Netherlands for about a month and worked on a farm creamery. This is where
I learned everything about the Gouda cheese-making process. We hope to have Cows and Co Creamery be a small vacation destination for the citizens of North Dakota and surrounding states. We want to educate the community about dairy farming, gelato, cheese, and other dairy products. Cows and Co Creamery will have a production/aging room, café, patio and several animals for citizens to enjoy!

What is your favorite thing about having your own business?

There is something extremely special about working for yourself and your family. Even though I work over 40 hours a week, it does not feel like that at all because I am doing something I love. The flexibility of owning my own business and making my own schedule is also a big perk.

What is the most challenging thing?

The most challenging thing for me right now is keeping up with the growth of Duchessa Gelato. I am currently running social media, answering all customer questions, making the gelato, catering events and delivering. It has been tough juggling and keeping up with all the work. It is probably time to hire a few employees!

I have A LOT of help from my mother and I would not be able to do it without her. We have an awesome relationship so it is super fun to work with her every day. I also get help from my husband, sister in law, brothers and father too!

What is a word that best describes you?

Determined. I feel like I set many goals and will work hard to reach them!

What advice would you have given yourself 10 years ago?

Go to university and get a business/ marketing degree, haha! I do not regret going to nursing school at all. I love being a nurse and have met my best friends in nursing school. Ten years ago I did not know I would be making gelato and other dairy products so education in business would be nice to have right now. Luckily, my parents are entrepreneurs and have guided me through the process.

Where can people find your work?

Instagram, Facebook, our website and the Red River Market! Depending on how long the creamery construction takes hopefully next spring and summer people will be able to come out and visit Cows and Co!

How can our community support you – especially in this time?

Sharing the word of Duchessa Gelato and Cows and Co Creamery!

More Info

Instagram: @duchessagelato

Written by Ashley Morken

Ashley Morken is the owner of Unglued, a modern handmade gift shop featuring over 300 local and regional makers in downtown Fargo. She also a founding member of the Creative Mornings Fargo committee.

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