Sabrina Mancin, a Miami-based chef, met Alain Torres, a former Volkswagen director in Africa, in 2011 at a wedding in Tennessee. They fell in love and married. Five years later, Nanndi was born.
Their pride and joy — a shop that sells frozen cream and pastries — opened in downtown Dadeland (8845 SW 72nd Pl.) this past August 22. The couple, who had dreamed about this day for years, say they couldn't be happier.
"When I was living in Africa [with Torres]," Mancin remembers, "we would fantasize about having an ice-cream and gelato shop together.
"I started to think about what we could call it," she adds. "I imagined how it would be. Having my husband with me, I knew it was perfect. I could stay in the kitchen, and he could handle the business."
To pass time, Mancin began to brainstorm names — "Nanndi," a variation of the Zulu word "sweet," stuck. "I wanted a name that meant something to us and the life we had in Africa," she says, "and a name that could be pronounced in any language. Not to mention, everything we do here is sweet."
Mancin, a Venezuelan-born chef with nearly ten years of experience, learned gelato-making in Italy and later completed Pennsylvania State University's esteemed ice-cream course. "I've been making ice cream for years," she says, "but for my own shop, I wanted to do something different."
Nanndi specializes in frozen cream, Mancin's way of describing a fusion of ice cream and gelato. "There's nothing better than a creamy vanilla ice cream," she says, "or the texture of an Italian hazelnut gelato. But if you want gelato, go to a gelateria. If you want ice cream, go to Häagen-Dazs.
"At Nanndi, I wanted to blend the tradition and comfort that ice cream has in America with the complexity that is gelato," she adds. "Now it's a lot of math, chemistry, biology, and understanding the process of making really great frozen cream."
Some of Mancin's self-developed recipes include the "Maria Cookie,” made with Maria cookie; and guava and cheese, a Cuban-inspired favorite. She makes dairy-free and fruit sorbet varieties too.
At Nanndi, find a bevy of Mancin's homemade pastries and marmalades too. "I want to offer things that can go really well with our frozen varieties," she says, "something like a peach crisp, where you can heat it up and top it with a cream.
"I get my love for marmalade-making from my time in Italy," she adds. "They're full of flavor, not preservatives. I just made fig marmalade, and the only ingredients I used were figs and sugar."
Mancin says everything at Nanndi — such as her creams, marmalades, and pastries — is seasonal. When a fruit or vegetable is no longer in season, it'll be gone, she says.
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Mancin says she and Torres are eager to expand. Though the couple isn't expecting just yet, she says siblings are likely in Nanndi's future.
"It's crazy for me to say it," she laughs, "but that's the idea.
"We want this place to feel like home. Everyone likes something homemade, cozy, and comfortable. That translates into every nationality. If we can do that with every Nanndi expansion, then we'll know we're doing something right."