MARíA FLORENCIA "FUFI" ANAYA
The waiter had told us she wasn't in, but Fufi appeared, smiling, and pulled up a chair to to hear all about our not-yet-open, local goods shop in her old neighborhood of Miami Shores. We had just tried the empanadas-- steak and mushroom/caramelized onion-- at her place in the Design District. The cozy yet refined vibe of the little restaurant matched the elegance of her empanadas: thin and not-at-all greasy, baked crusts filled with a variety of fresh ingredients. She was encouraging and suggested several local vendors to reach out to, including Mimmo's.
Florencia's passion for empanadas was born from her Argentinian upbringing, but it truly developed in Miami when she began experimenting with her own recipes. A manager of private events, Florencia would bring her homemade empanadas in for lunch and, soon, for her colleagues' many requests as well. She decided to trade the corporate world in for one of farmer's markets, opened and closed her own restaurant, and now dedicates her production to eateries around the city.
They're the kind of empanadas that convert non-empanada eaters. The pastry dough is tender, yet it holds a substantial amount of filling, whether it's a saucy, ground beef, cheesy spinach (her two most popular), or something less traditional like vegan eggplant curry or bacon, brie, and dates. Often served baked, they can also be grilled or fried.
IN THE KITCHEN
Below, Florencia finishes cooking for about 50 beef empanadas. It's one of her favorite flavors. She prefers to spend long stretches at the kitchen. Having prepped the day before, Fufi makes fillings for 4 types of empanadas: beef, breakfast, garden vegetable, and caprese. Her helper, Hilda, presses spinach and mozzarella empanadas in the meanwhile.