The Early Years (1986 - 1992)
After graduating from business school and while working in the foodservice industry, Kettle Cuisine's founder Jerry Shafir identified a void in the market. In 1986, Restaurateurs serving soup had two options: make it themselves or buy poor quality canned or frozen premade soups. The finest Restaurateurs were not comfortable serving the premade options to their guests so they endured the high labor costs and taste and texture inconsistencies of making soup themselves. The opportunity, as Jerry saw it, was to provide discerning Chefs operating the kitchens of the finest eateries a better option; high quality, fresh, refrigerated soup that they could be proud to serve.
Kettle Cuisine was born. Working closely with Chefs, Jerry developed a limited line of fresh soups using only the finest quality, natural food ingredients and well tested artisan cooking techniques. In the early years, Jerry traveled door to door shopping his new concept around to Chefs who had grown skeptical of premade soups. However, once they tried the finished products they could taste the difference and gradually, one-by-one restaurants in the Greater Boston area began giving Jerry and Kettle Cuisine a chance.
Expanded Offerings & Formalized Culinary Discipline (1992 - 1998)
As Jerry continued to grow his following of Restaurateurs who believed in Kettle Cuisine, demand for expanded offerings also grew. Therefore, in 1992, Jerry hired accomplished Chef and Restaurateur Volker Frick to join the team as Executive Chef. Chef Volker's culinary skill and artistry were immediately apparent as he expanded Kettle Cuisine's portfolio to over 50 varieties. The new varieties included interesting twists on traditional varieties as well as several new and innovative varieties.
Chef Volker also played a significant role in formalizing Kettle Cuisine's culinary discipline. He built on Jerry's philosophy of treating food the way it should be treated at every step of the way by drafting highly detailed cooking procedures for each recipe and by comprehensively training each of the cooks in the kitchen. To this day, Chef Volker is viewed as the architect and enforcer of Kettle Cuisine's culinary discipline.
A New Channel (1999 - 2005)
During the 1990's, supermarket chains increasingly became interested in offering fresh prepared foods. This transition in the industry was driven by a change in shopper's lifestyles (less time to cook from scratch) and a desire from retailers to win back some "share of stomach" from the restaurant industry. This cultural shift was the impetus for Kettle Cuisine's decision to begin serving this new channel with the same great products that had been successful for so many years in the restaurant industry. In 1999, Kettle Cuisine began offering private label refrigerated soups to the supermarket industry and quickly grew its base of customers to more than 20 regional chains.
Direct to Consumers (2006 - Present)
Upon its 20th anniversary, Kettle Cuisine embarked on a new venture to deliver gluten free soups directly to consumers. When Jerry's daughter Kate was diagnosed with Celiac Disease nearly twenty years ago and was forced to live on a gluten free diet, Jerry quickly realized how limited the prepared gluten free food options were for this growing community of people. In 2006, when the FDA proposed a formal definition for gluten free foods, Jerry finally had his opportunity to serve this community with great tasting, wholesome, real food products. This line of ten single serving, frozen soups is now available in grocery stores in all fifty states.
Refocusing on Foodservice & Retail Deli (2012 - Present)
During the summer of 2012, Kettle Cuisine entered into a business partnership with the Arlon Food and Agriculture Investment Program to advance the company's growth into new markets without compromising its core food philosophies. As part of this exciting next stage in the company's history, Jerry remains actively involved as CEO, Chef Joseph Ascoli was promoted to Executive Corporate Chef to carry the torch of new product development and product excellence and Kettle Cuisine exited the direct to consumer business in order to get back to its roots in foodservice and retail deli and better serve those customers.
Today, Kettle Cuisine offers a selection of over 50 varieties of soups, chilis and chowders and services over 5,000 restaurants, cafés, delicatessens and supermarkets in the United States. Kettle Cuisine continues to cook uncompromised soup with a commitment to impeccable ingredients, careful preparation and traditional cooking techniques. Kettle Cuisine's dedication has not wavered, and neither has its passion for great soup.