New Haven based company Food Crate elevates at home dining

When the pandemic struck, those who frequently dined out found themselves either learning how to cook or relying on delivery and takeout. The New Haven based company The Food Crate delivers chef-curated meals directly to your door.

“I believe it’s one of the ways of the future. People are looking for quality, uniqueness, and convenience,” says Jordan Laudano, founder of the unique meal service. “People love our food crates for themselves and to give as gifts. I don't think people will stop dining out, but I think the at-home dining experience has been elevated in recent years, and certainly in response to the pandemic. People are looking to make their homes a more safe and inviting place and the culinary aspects of home are a part of that. We want to help people enjoy their time with loved ones and spend less time in the kitchen.”

Currently there are 16 different crates, including holiday-specific and Steam Pots that can be customized. In homage of Laudano’s New England background, he offers a variety of lobster choices, including Lobster Mac & Cheese and Lobster Bisque. Other crates include gluten-free Meatball and Sauce, a carnivorous Tailgate Crate, a Date Crate for Two, a Charcuterie and Fromagerie Crate, Artisan Smoked Ham Half Crate, and more. You can pick a crate or build your own by shopping the categories from a full selection, ranging from meats, seafood, soups, hors d' oeuvres and artisanal cheese boards, to pasta, desserts, and sauces.

“Our range of products is really unique. I think of us as the greatest hits album of food. We have artisanal groceries to top-line steaks to sharable unique seafood offerings like an Amalfi Seven Fish Seafood Salad,” says Laudano.

The food is prepared in a New Haven-based USDA commercial kitchen by executive chef Jeff Caputo, one of Connecticut’s top chefs. New crates and menu items are continually added. For summer, there’s lobster roll kits, chowders, and Mexican street corn.

“Jeff and I are always in the kitchen dreaming up new offerings. I love thinking about how different items will come together and taste testing them with my friends and family before releasing them to the public,” says Laudano.

They specialize in overnight delivery and ship Monday through Thursday in fully insulated crates with ice to keep contents cold and safe for three days in 100 degrees. “We’ve done extensive digital testing and understand how long products stay cold in our packaging over various temperature variables. Much of the products are shipped flash frozen but we also have a lot of fresh made-to-order products. We ship quickly and safely, and when there are delays we deal with them case-by-case to make sure the customer gets a safe, fresh product.” The crates include cooking instructions and best use by dates. “We also encourage customization instead of laser-focused attention to elaborate instructions. When a Crate arrives at your door we want you to think ‘this is going to be fun!’”

Laudano was born and raised in Connecticut in an Italian-American household whose family founded Jordan Paige Food Enterprises in 1982, a specialty food company. “We always had access to high-quality cuisine and we didn't take this for granted. Cooking became very important in my household. I spent a lot of my childhood boating along the sound and these experiences have influenced many of the seafood dishes we offer. There are a lot of New England-based options on the site, too, like the Narragansett Clear Clam Chowder,” explains Laudano who purchased the business from his parents in 2005. “Prior to COVID, I ran Jordan Paige Food Enterprises. When the pandemic hit, everything shifted for us. There were no events. It was survival mode, honestly. We retooled our website and embarked on the journey of selling direct to consumers,” says Laudano. “It's been a great ride thus far.”

Laudano prides his company on offering quality ingredients with a focus on outstanding customer satisfaction and a reliable on time delivery rate. “Quality is our number one selling point and offering healthy serving sizes. I think it all starts with the best products you can source and use in recipes. The more love you put in, the more love you get out,” says Laudano, adding, “We spend less money on fancy packaging and keep the focus on creating a restaurant-quality experience at home, or in the backyard, or wherever you choose to take your crate.”

It’s all about providing people with an excellent experience. “I want people to say ‘wow that was easy and delicious.’ But beyond that, I want them to think about the people they shared it with and the laughs they had over the food. Food is central to community and we could use more of that.”

Pamela Brown is a freelance writer.