Meryle Evans - September 2013
New York City—When folks ask Certified Master Chef Ken Arnone, “Where is your restaurant?” The reply is: “In your kitchen.” Arnone is co-founder of dcuisine.com, the recently launched concept that offers restaurant quality, fine dining meals designed for freezer storage and quick preparation at home. Soups and entrées have been flash-frozen in individual portions in pouches, and arrive ready to serve once reheated in boiling water.
The idea was the brainchild of founder/CEO Sam Metzger, who also enlisted his upstate New York neighbor, Peter Morrell, former chairman/CEO of wine merchants Morrell & Company, to join him in the enterprise. “There was a long testing period,” Arnone recalls. “We worked hard to ensure the quality and execution—it was complicated to hold true to the identity of a dish.” They had many problems to solve, like discarding ingredients that didn’t reheat well, and determining the exact time a pouch had to be immersed in boiling water for the food to be reheated.
But Arnone, with wide experience at hotels and restaurants, has helmed his own consulting business for the past eight years, and welcomed the opportunity to showcase his style of cuisine. After three years of experiments and tasting dinners, a list of 20 candidates was whittled down to a start-up selection of four soups ($12 to $16) and four entrées ($18 to $24). Among the winners were butternut squash bisque, and Mediterranean shrimp with tomatoes and chickpeas (pictured).
Arnone supervised production at a chef-owned facility in California, from the purchasing of free-range meats to filling ready-to-ship boxes, which were available starting in May.
Morrell, who provides wine pairing suggestions on the website, stresses convenience. “I believe wine lovers will be our best customers,” he says. “When you want it, it’s there, like a wine cellar but stored in your freezer.”