Matt and Lisa fell in love over gelato and now bring love to others with delicious, made in-house, decadent ice cream.
Their love story began against the pristine backdrop of Germany’s Black Forest. That’s where TRU alumni Matt Bajkov (University College of the Cariboo ’05) and Lisa Danneberg (now Bajkov, BA ’17) met in 2006. Born and raised in Prince George, Matt played volleyball with the UCC Sun Demons prior to joining a European professional league. He was playing volleyball in Lisa’s hometown of Bühl, Germany, when they were introduced. Sparks flew and they soon went on their first official date.
“Matt and I went out for dinner at our favourite Greek restaurant and instantly hit it off. We talked all night and found a shared passion for food and travel,” she says. They began spending much of their free time together. “We spent many evenings cooking, trying out new recipes and different cuisines. One of our go-to spots became a local ice creamery in the heart of Bühl — it’s an Italian gelato place where they create unique, homemade flavours.”
Their love story continued to write itself over the next several years across multiple countries. Matt returned to Canada to work as a wildland firefighter in Vanderhoof and Lisa met him for a brief Canadian vacation before beginning a new job in Barcelona, Spain. When Matt returned to Bühl to begin another season of volleyball, Lisa met him at the airport but soon had to go back to Spain — so seeing each other daily was no longer possible.
“We chatted on the phone almost every night planning our next getaway together,” she says. “We took a week off work and volleyball and went to Sicily exploring every island, eating out, snorkelling and enjoying the scenery.”
The distance became too much for the young couple to bear — Matt left the team in Bühl and joined Lisa in Spain. They travelled often, contemplating a future together and making their way to Kamloops in 2009. The next spring, they married and subsequently welcomed sons Mason and Jaden to the family.
Lisa began attending TRU in 2013 and graduated in 2017 with a Bachelor of Arts majoring in psychology and minoring in sociology. Following graduation, she worked in her field for several years before an unexpected opportunity opened a new chapter in their life story. They were approached by Kevin Pederson, co-creator of Frozen Paddle in Prince George, about opening a second location of the craft ice creamery in Kamloops.
They said “Yes!”
“Matt and I instantly said yes,” Lisa says. “We love food and how it can bring people together. In Europe, we often get together over cake and coffee or a delicious home-cooked meal, sitting for hours sharing stories and creating memories. Frozen Paddle’s vision is exactly that, creating memories with our community.”
Since opening in Kamloops in May 2021, Frozen Paddle has developed a close following of dedicated ice cream lovers. They flock to the little shop on Victoria Street to tantalize their tastebuds with a variety of flavours, from deliciously simple double chocolate to enticingly exotic matcha tea. Whenever possible, they source local ingredients and draw ideas from staff and customers while also researching their own unique flavour combinations.
If ice cream is part of your love language, count Frozen Paddle as your premier date destination. When they first opened Frozen Paddle, they welcomed a couple on a first date. This year, that couple is planning their wedding.
“Ice cream engages all the senses with its taste, scent and texture,” says Lisa. “At first, it’s cold on your lips which sets everything off, then the sweetness comes through. After that, the butterfat carries the flavour all the way to your nose. Plus, you can learn a lot about your date by what flavour they choose. Adventurous? Bold? Classic?”
Which flavours are Bajkov family favourites?
Matt: Local coffee collab
Mason: Mini egg (seasonal release)
Jaden: Vanilla bean
Lisa: Maple walnut and chunky monkey
As much as they adore ice cream, bringing people together and creating a sense of community are central to Lisa and Matt’s success. They donate hundreds of litres of ice cream to local charities, attend countless events and have developed close relationships with TRU WolfPack and TRU Alumni.
“Without the community’s support we wouldn’t be where we are today,” says Lisa. “TRU Alumni has been very important to us; the connections we were able to make with staff, students, business partners and other alumni are invaluable.”
Travel keeps family connected
The summer season is all-out frenetic at the ice creamery, but winter brings a natural slowdown, so the Bajkov family makes the most of it by travelling. They’ve been to Italy, Mexico City, Bucerías, Switzerland, France and more. This winter, the family enjoyed Disneyland Paris, went sightseeing in the city and spent time in Strasbourg and Germany. Matt and Lisa were also able to schedule in a solo trip to Playa del Carmen, their first holiday without the kids.
Home from their travels, it will soon be time to gear up for another busy season. Last year Frozen Paddle introduced a new Italian cart, which makes portable ice cream peddling possible, allowing them to attend indoor WolfPack games and other community events. They are excited to get the cart out even more this year and continue to focus on expanding their market for homemade popsicles. TRU alumni get 20 per cent off at Frozen Paddle, which is also available at local retailers and online through at www.frozenpaddle.ca.