Frozen food is a staple of American life. It is said that the industry has an annual revenue of approximately $50 billion, and that on average Americans eat 71 frozen food products a year. Yet despite its popularity, frozen food is also considered to be low or ordinary in taste and not as nutritious as fresh foods.
Babeth's Feast (babethsfeast.com) defies these stereotypes about frozen food. It is America's first all-frozen food store that specializes in French cuisine. The store, which opened in New York City this past summer, offers a total of about 360 gourmet products in ten different categories, including French-style breakfast, pastries, bread, hors d'oeuvres, appetizers, soup, main courses, and desserts.
The company's owner, Elisabeth de Kergorlay, has been a fan of frozen food. Her home country, France, has long since embraced frozen products thanks to the development of flash freezing techniques that help to preserve foods' original taste and nutritional value. After moving to New York, Ms. de Kergorlay launched her business, realizing the need among its busy residents for high-quality frozen products that could be ready in little to no time for daily meals and occasional parties.
Popular products are beef bourguignon ($25, serves 3-4) and potage ($6, serves 2). There are also fancy gourmet lobster dishes for those who want to host dinner parties at home ($35-50, serves 2-3). While many of the desserts and bread sold at the store are supplied by other companies, most of the main dishes have been created by chefs at Babeth's Feast, who are constantly developing original recipes to suit American taste. In addition, the modern-looking store has a kitchen, and offers various events to help educate New Yorkers about the tastiness of their products.
As its economy starts to show signs of recovery, New York continues to see the emergence of businesses introducing a new food culture and offering high-end services.