In some parts of Italy, you will find houses with a sign outside that reads, “Casalinga,” which means, ‘Come into my home and I will cook for you.’ This invitation to share in wholesome, delicious food is the same that inspires Patricia Crimeni to bring her absolute best to Casalinga Food Company.
“We bring the best quality fresh and frozen meals from our humble home to yours, using the freshest ingredients for food we call homemade and real,” she says. “If we don’t make the best, then we won’t make it at all.”
Casalinga is a full-service food company bringing catering, meal service and specialty retail sales to the Lower Mainland and outlying areas. Crimeni founded the company more than 26 years ago after a disappointing experience with a local meal service.
“I discovered a meal service company and was so excited to try it, but when I brought it home for my family, we could not eat any of it,” Crimeni says. “We ordered pizza. The food was processed, and the cabbage was hard and undercooked on the cabbage rolls. I could not believe there was not a great meal service company, so I started my own.”
She was inspired to provide incredible cuisine that celebrates flavour and home cooking, and to follow her bold, unapologetic passion for food. “I am not a trained chef, but when I was 12, I received the Cordon Bleu Encyclopedia and taught myself to make everything from homemade bread to pasta,” she says. “I still learn new techniques every day, and I write my own recipes.”
Casalinga’s catering service has catered up to 2,000 for customers that include Rugby Canada; BBQed for hundreds of people at large corporate gatherings; and puts the same effort it puts into large events into ten-person office luncheons.
Individuals and organizations can order through Casalinga’s weekly meal service, which brings fresh and frozen meals to people throughout Lower Mainland Vancouver and from Hope to Victoria. “Our biggest sellers are BBQ ribs, cabbage rolls, lasagna and beef dips,” Crimeni says. “We also provide custom meals for people that are vegan, paleo, keto and who follow specific body building meal plans.”
Casalinga retails its meals—including shepherd’s pie, butter chicken, and three types of lasagna—in Clancy’s Meat Co. locations in Chilliwack and Tsawwassen. And in the spirit of Casalinga’s namesake, its new location on Winston St. in Vancouver features a large table where visitors are invited to stop in throughout the day for lunch or for a nice hot dinner to take home.
And Casalinga is getting noticed.
It won best Chili in Vancouver in a contest among city departments, and Best Lasagna in a contest held by The Province.
Part of Casalinga’s success is the creativity to try new things and take on new challenges. Crimeni is currently finding a great deal of success with Hungry Man Dinners—prime rib with Yorkshire pudding and lamb shanks, for example. At one time she decided her company would make the best cinnamon buns ever, so she used croissant dough with 27 layers of butter and froze them raw.
“All you had to do was take them out of the freezer the night before and bake them fresh in the morning,” Crimeni says. “They came with cream cheese icing, and we sold so many we could not keep up with orders.”
But Casalinga is truly known for its cabbage rolls—featured on Dragon’s Den, the cabbage rolls were the basis of a partnership between Casalinga and Vancouver celebrity chef Vikram Vij, who packaged the cabbage rolls for retail distribution. The partnership was successful until recently when Vij sold his federal plant in Surrey—but Casalinga is looking to partner in a similar arrangement in the future.
“The product is amazing and can sell globally and through Amazon,” Crimeni says. “Our cabbage rolls are so good we have Ukrainian families picking them up for their family occasions.” For cooks wanting to take their culinary adventures to the next level, Crimeni offers this sage advice: “Stop throwing out flavour. If you cook something with a sauce or juice in the pan, cook it down and put it back on the food,” she says. “This goes for BBQ ribs, roast beef, chicken and anything else you make. Don’t be afraid to experiment with food and get creative.”
Looking to the future, Crimeni’s plan is to keep bringing wholesome, delicious food to her grateful customers, and she is still looking for a partner in the cabbage roll business. Casalinga is also moving into bone broth for retail sale.
“I have tried many broths and found them lacking in flavour and highly priced,” she says. “By the end of February our BEST broths will be available, including beef, chicken, vegetable and pho flavours. Check out our fantastic new website for this and more great information.”
Learn more at casalinga.ca/