Sisters-in-Law Scoop Up Ice Cream Specialties
Culinary endeavor bolstered by faith.
Cooling off in summer heat — especially in July, National Ice Cream Month, and July 16, National Ice Cream Day — often includes enjoying ice cream.
And while many consumers may think ice cream production and flavor creation is a simple task, two Maryland sisters-in-law can confirm that cranking out quality ice cream in memorable flavors is no easy task. Renee and Nadine Crisitello launched their company, Scoop & Paddle, in 2015.
“I spent several years as a personal chef, often helping my clients host dinner parties in their homes,” said Nadine. “One of my clients would regularly tell me that my ice cream was so good, I should sell it. I mentioned that to my husband, and he responded, ‘I’ve been telling you that for years. You have a marketing degree. Put a business plan together and get started!’ Two years later, we launched Scoop & Paddle.”
And, Renee added, both women had been cooking since childhood with their mothers and had developed a real love for good food. Nadine pointed out that her sister-in-law is a terrific baker, adding that they knew that baked goods would be an important part of the business. “Our ice cream sandwich cooking took months of development,” Nadine said.
“And the finished product is perfectly chewy, standing up beautifully to our ice cream.”
Once the two decided to forge a business through ice cream, they studied the basics by attending a local ice cream-making class, and Nadine even attended the “Ice Cream Short Course” at Penn State, which has been the industry standard for ice cream professionals for 120 years and covers every aspect of ice cream manufacturing.
“All ice cream executives from every major ice cream company go there,” said Renee.
“It is a very technical ice cream-making course. Ice cream-making really is a science,” she explained, adding that entrepreneurs need to understand how to make the frozen treat creamy, not icy.
Having decided to operate a food truck and not a brick-and-mortar storefront, the ladies’ next step was to purchase a VW bus, outfit it as a traveling store, and develop delicious recipes. To work on their creations, however, they needed to find a professional kitchen facility and obtain a license.
“All this took about one and a half years,” Renee recalled. “It was a long process. We had a lot of faith that we would get it done. If you don’t have the strength, a lot of people would just give up. We did not.”
They not only had the strength — they both had a solid Catholic faith in God.
“We are both devout Catholics and parishioners at St. Louis Church in Clarksville, Maryland,” Renee said.
“We agreed that God had guided us on this ice cream pathway. We say a prayer to God every time we get together,” she said. “We pray for ourselves and for our helpers’ safety. We always want God to watch over all of us. And having faith with a startup business is very important. We follow the signs that God provides for us. It is what God and Jesus are telling us to do.”
Nadine added, “While both Renee and I have been guided by our strong faith, we ... believe in demonstrating goodwill through our actions,” she said. “With every challenge and success, we are reminded that we are not alone on the journey.” The sisters-in-law have devised several tasty flavors — nine fixed flavors and five seasonal ones.
“The recipes are all inspirations,” Renee said. “We want to make all the flavors that people would recognize and keep all ingredients natural. We like to buy and use local goods from farmers’ markets, such as peaches and apples. All the milk comes from Trickling Springs Creamery in Pennsylvania, and all the milk comes from grass-fed cows.”
The fixed flavors include vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, mint chocolate chip, salted caramel, gluten-free chocolate chip cookie, coffee, espresso and cobbler, which changes seasonally.
The specials include “Gone Bananas,” with roasted bananas, dark chocolate and a shortbread crust. Then there is “Key Lime Pie,” made with homemade key lime curd and a chocolate-graham cracker crust. Other seasonal flavors include “Happy Elves,” “Gingerbread Man” and “Hot Cocoa” ice creams — plus handmade ice cream sandwiches and sauces.
The Crisitellos’ goal is to make ice cream flavors that people recognize, and, said Nadine, better than they remember.
“Our mint chip has the perfect balance of sweet mint and handmade dark chocolate flakes. Our salted caramel is made weekly in a big copper pot over an open flame. We take ice cream seriously, but have more fun than you can imagine making it,” she said.
Added Nadine, “Ice cream makes everyone happy. Young children visit us with their parents, all leaving with big, sticky grins. Teenagers stop by on their way home from a night out with friends, and grandparents tell us stories of making fresh peach ice cream with a hand-crank machine.”
One of their fans is Janet Terry, market manager of Olney Farmers and Artists Market and Farmers Market at Maple Lawn in Maryland. There, she met the sisters-in-law, who were participants in the farmers’ market. She said she loved their ice cream, adding, “One of my favorite flavors is the ‘Creamsicle’ — just like we used to get when we were kids.”
The ice cream duo also contributes their creations at events at the Shrine of St. Anthony in Ellicott City, Maryland.
Joe White, assistant director of the shrine, said: “Their ice cream is almost too good. They are just wonderful ladies, and we are very glad to have them here and helping with our many different events at the shrine for our feast days. They are always so excited and joyful in what they do.”
Added Franciscan Father Michael Heine, director of the shrine: “I think they are joyful women, and I love what they are doing, and the love and the delight in the people they serve is a little foretaste of heaven in what they serve. They come for our big special events, delighting us with their ice cream.”
Alexandra Greeley writes from northern Virginia.