Al dente bowtie pasta is glazed in a creamy, rich sauce, complemented by tender pieces of chicken and vibrant green broccoli. The medley of flavors wafts up in a mouth-watering scent with all the complexity of a restaurant meal, found in a simple microwaveable bowl. This indulgent meal — along with other favorites like beef stroganoff, Kung Pao chicken and carrot cake — isn’t from a restaurant, but new store’s freezer.
Frozen Foodies, which opened last December at the corner of Halsted and Webster streets, sells gormet versions of the old-school TV dinner, without the freezer burns and preservatives of those sold in a typical grocery store.
General Manager Jack Menza explained that the idea for Frozen Foodies came from the discovery of a cryotechnology process called FreshFreeze. Fresh food is sent through a nitrogen tunnel at -100 degrees Fahrenheit, immediately frozen and vacuumed in a plastic film for freshness. The store’s meals are created by to obtain their gourmet frozen meals, in order to “change the way people think about frozen food,” Menza said.
Currently, the store carries meals from popular restaurant chains like Wildfire and Big Bowl, along with other companies that supply a variety of dishes from different food cultures like Italian, Mexican and Asian, including healthy options.
Freshman Bekah Scolare loves the ease of frozen food, which she she often picks up frozen meals from the Student Center instead of cooking or bringing hot food back to her apartment.
“At home, my dinner tonight is going to be (frozen) Pad Thai, and I love Thai food. But it’s really expensive to make because you have to get all the ingredients and I’m a college student, so just having the convenience of the (Student Center) is really nice,” Scolare said.
Frozen Foodies’ dishes are just as easy to prepare as other frozen meals available in the typical freezer section.
“Everything goes directly from the freezer to the microwave, so all you have to do is pull off the outer sleeve, pop it in and heat it up for anywhere from one to five minutes,” Menza said. “The film on top is going to expand, steam the product — which is better than microwaving because no direct microwaves are hitting it — and then self-ventilate all on its own. So it’s really a revolutionary technology.”
The price is steeper than the average frozen meal but less than a gourmet dish, with entrees ranging from $6 to $10. But it does not seem like that has deterred customers — in the first five days the store was open, it sold out of four of its products, Menza said.
Additionally, Frozen Foodies offers digital gift cards for parents who want to supply their college children with money for their frozen food. The digital gift card is texted to the recipient’s phone, and a scanner will show up on the phone for ease when paying for purchases.
“We know college kids might not like to cook or have the time, so delicious microwaveable entrees might be exactly what they need,” Menza said.