CORONA, CALIF. – Cadence Kitchen is on a mission to modernize the frozen aisle in the new “from home” era.
Launched in 2019, the Corona-based startup offers a range of better-for-you frozen dishes in more than 200 retailers nationwide. The lineup features cleaned-up versions of classic comfort foods, like prime rib beef roast and gravy and four-cheese macaroni and cheese, along with international dishes like chicken tikka masala and Mexican-style street corn.
“A lot of frozen food either has a one-note flavor or a one-note texture profile,” said Jason Triail, vice president of culinary innovation at Cadence Kitchen. “Traditionally, frozen food has had a bad rap. We’re here to change that mindset based on the quality of our products.”
The company uses a novel liquid nitrogen enrobing technique to craft restaurant-quality dishes. The process flash freezes products instantly, preventing ice crystals from forming while preserving freshness, Triail said. It also captures more nutrients and eliminates the need for artificial preservatives and colors.
“We’re locking in flavor and texture,” he said. “With our beef stew, for example, you’re going to get the tenderness of a perfectly cooked carrot, not too al dente but definitely not mush. You get the texture of onions that have been broken down and caramelized. You get potatoes that are holding their shape but are still buttery. The beef is like pulled beef that’s been stewed away for hours.”
Cadence Kitchen reverse engineers each recipe, tinkering with pH, salt and hydration to ensure they deliver an elevated experience when cooked at home.
“It’s not a cookie-cutter science,” Triail said. “We have to crack the code with each product. There’s a unique science behind each one with how much nitrogen to use.”
The approach has proved successful during the pandemic, he added. Quality has helped the company stand out in the frozen aisle as restaurant-weary consumers look to recreate chef-made meals at home.
“Our business is growing, not just in current sales volume by customer, but we’re continuing to get more of our product into new areas,” Triail said.
The surge in frozen foods has opened doors for the company to offer more products and greater variety. It recently unveiled 11 new dishes, including chicken and sausage jambalaya, chicken tortilla soup and prime rib beef roast stroganoff. It also debuted its first seafood dinners, adding dishes like lobster tortellini, salmon dijon and scallops carbonara to its lineup.
“I don’t see a lot of compelling seafood products out there,” Triail said. “That category is definitely a wide-open, older platform that needs new products.”
Other new additions include a vegan Latin bowl, featuring basmati rice, meatless chorizo crumbles and veggies tossed in an aji Amarillo-based sauce, and a salsa verde breakfast scramble, featuring scrambled eggs with Monterey Jack cheese, poblano peppers and roasted tomatillo salsa.
The company sees big opportunities for vegan and breakfast dishes in the future, Triail said.
“The secret sauce is learning what people need and supplying that for them,” he said. “It's not just getting dinner on the table; it’s recipes that would take hours for them to make from scratch that we can deliver in under 10 minutes. We like to find problematic items and give them that solution.”