After years in the food distribution industry providing high quality goods directly to Connecticut restaurants, Jordan Laudono saw an opportunity to bring his high-end ingredients directly to consumers. After testing countless recipes with chef Jeff Caputo, Food Crate was born and has quickly become a popular meal delivery service in our area.
Describe a bit about Food Crate and how it came to be?
During the beginning of the pandemic I spent my time couch surfing and watching Dave Portnoy of Barstool Sports doing frozen pizza reviews. I was watching some of the products that people were sending him thinking, “they aren’t even sending him nice products.” I knew I could do something better. So during the initial lockdown, I spent two weeks making amazing woodfired pizzas, getting them ready for him and thinking I was going to become the next big frozen pizza star.
But I quickly realized that I had it all wrong and it didn’t make sense for me to sell just pizza because I was sitting on a goldmine of employee talent, knowledge and physical resources that would later underpin the Food Crate.
While I had all of the pieces in place: A USDA federally inspected kitchen, 20,000-square-feet of freezer, refrigerator and dry space, shipping docks and access to over 4,000 specialty ingredient items usually found at fine dining restaurants, but rarely on a grocery store shelf. All I had to do was figure out how to transform my B2B business to a B2C one. I’ve demonstrated that I have a knack for entrepreneurship throughout my life and am pretty nimble as a businessman so I figured if I put my mind to it I could make this happen and bring a positive culinary experience to the public during a time when eating out isn’t always possible.
Why is it so important to have it sourced by chefs?
The chef aspect of the Food Crate is what makes our product extra special. The prepared options at grocery stores, even upmarket and specialty ones, still miss the mark and generally don’t come close to re-creating a restaurant quality experience. I knew that a chef was needed to bring the same caliber of cuisine to at-home consumers as we would to the discerning audiences we have historically served.
Our ‘crates’ and other products are engineered to be stored in your refrigerator and come out of your oven tasting like a fresh cooked plate at a restaurant. The markets and restaurant takeout are making food for you to eat right away; it isn’t stored in the best packaging. Food is either made fresh to order, pre-cooked or raw in vacuum seal packaging. Our insulated crates have enough ice to keep contents cold & safe for three days at 100°F, ensuring that it will taste fresher, longer.
How many states do you deliver to?
All 50 states, including Puerto Rico.
How many people can most crates serve?
Crate servings range from 6 – 12 people. But, more importantly, the food is packaged in a way that a crate could also serve a family of four dinners across four nights in a row (it doesn’t have to be eaten all at once). And it is not just the crates that are the draw. About 50% of our customers order a la carte and skip on the crates or do a combination of crate and a la carte.
Which are some of the most popular crates? Do they come with instructions on how to prepare the food?
Our Steampot Crates are by far the most popular, followed by the Smoke BBQ Crate. Every item comes with detailed instructions on the packaging. General instructions are included on the website as well as ingredient listings for sensitivities (i.e. gluten, pork, etc).
Is each crate meant to be a full meal? Or can you make more than one meal out of some?
Let’s put it this way, this is definitely not a single meal service. But if you were a single person living at home, you could easily feed yourself for a week with any collection of items.
What level cook do you need to be to prepare the food in most crates?
I think most of our clients are good cooks and know their way around the kitchen. These same clients also know great food, which is why they return. While you don’t need to be a good cook to buy anything from us, you might want to buy a WiFi thermometer before you burn your $60.00 kobe steak.
How long do crates generally stay fresh?
We sell a mix of frozen and made to order fresh items. Some items can’t be frozen (i.e., the Amalfi Seafood Salad, which comes with 2lbs of fresh seafood). The lion’s share of products should be consumed or frozen within 5-10 days.
With Valentine’s Day coming up, which crate would you recommend if someone wants to plan a romantic meal? Stay tuned for this. We have an exciting crate coming just for Valentine’s and beyond. Once Valentine’s is over, we will have a “date crate” as a constant fixture on our site.
Will the crate types change as the seasons change and have new additions?
Absolutely, we wouldn’t think you’d want to go back to a restaurant that has the same menu every time you visit.
What makes Food Crate unique as a food delivery service? In my opinion, we are like the greatest hits album of food available on the internet with the quality to match most top tier restaurants. We carved out a lot of gluten free items that you would never even know were gluten free unless we told you. When you want something special, you know that we’ve taken the steps to make sure that we are delivering exemplary products. We strive to create dishes that are a celebration of the best in food.
How did the variety of hors d’oeuvres, sides and desserts get selected?
Although the Food Crate is new, we aren’t. We’ve been doing this for 20+ years and know what people want for cocktail parties, weddings, gatherings, etc. It is important to note, we’ve taken a huge extra step for the consumer who wants spring rolls, croquettes, etc. Most people don’t want to fry food at their house. Because of that, we’ve pre-fried anything that you would have needed to fry. This of course gives the home consumer access to items they would have needed to go to a restaurant for. We’ve made it so easy because the customer only needs an oven and eight minutes to make perfect spring rolls. We are even giving you 10 different dipping sauces from mango wasabi to ginger papaya.
If you wanted to send a crate as a gift, which 3 would you recommend based on people’s different palettes?
I think the caviar crate is the ultimate gift. Before the Food Crate, I had convinced myself that I didn’t like caviar. But then after playing with combinations of food, I realized that Ocetra topping our white truffle croquette with a schmear of crème fraiche topping is easily one of the most decadent delicious bites you will ever make at home. Outside of that, the Holiday Ham Crate and Meatball Crate are both amazing. Everyone loves a craft smoked ham and amazing meatballs.