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Grocery Packaged Food

The Frozen Dumpling Delivery Empire Built During The Pandemic

Chances are that if you’ve been in California for the past year or so and are a dumpling fan, you’ve heard of Cali Dumpling. Started in Southern California during the pandemic, the frozen dumpling delivery service has since expanded its reach to as far north as Sacramento, effectively selling dumplings across most of the Golden State.

Born as a way to help keep local restaurant employees paid, Cali Dumpling has since become its own operation, with an exclusive factory churning out over 30,000 handmade dumplings every day.

Co-founder Allan Tea, who’s also behind SoCal restaurant brands like Capital Seafood and the Hello Kitty Cafe, initially used the dumpling delivery business to keep his restaurant employees paid. Now, most of them have returned to their normal jobs, he told Foodbeast, and the dumpling factory has an entirely different set of staff.

It’s a strong testament to how Cali Dumpling has grown in the past year and a half. Initially available in just a few cities, weekly delivery is now available across Southern California, and there’s even a few farmer’s markets you can pick the dumplings up at as well.

Where Cali Dumpling stands out most is the quality of their dumplings. Almost everything in the factory is scratch-made, down to different dough types for certain dumplings and hand-butchered pork butts, the bones of which are saved to make meat jelly for the xiaolongbao.

In terms of price, they’re also pretty competitive with high quality dumpling houses. A bag of 30 comes out to $16-$19 depending on which variety you order, averaging 50-60 cents per dumpling. (There’s also a flat $10 delivery fee, all of which goes directly to the company’s drivers.)

For those looking for a new frozen dumpling option that intersects quality and price, Cali Dumpling hits all of those marks and does a lot to help support its employees. They’re also available for wholesalers to purchase, and Tea hinted to Foodbeast that they’re looking to eventually sell the dumplings in grocery stores.

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Hit-Or-Miss

Fried Chicken Dumplings & the 5 Coolest Dishes We Can Expect From Lifetime’s ‘Supermarket Superstar’

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Unless you’re one of those Trader Joe’s/Wholesome Choice/farmer’s market people, chances are when you go to the grocery store, you stick to the tried-and-trues. You know, Chef Boyardee, Yoplait, Nestle. Every once in a while, the marketing geniuses in the food industry manage to introduce a totally new product into the mainstream (Greek yogurt and kale anyone?), but for the most part, we consumers are stubborn little assholes who need to be told ad nauseam that something is worth our time before we even consider testing it out ourselves.

So what happens when someone — anyone, be it your mom or your sister or your neighbor — has a brilliant food product idea that most people would probably love if they’d only give it a shot? Why, put it on TV of course.

That’s the basic gist behind a new show from Lifetime airing this Monday called “Supermarket Superstar.” Each hour long episode will follow three home chefs as they pitch their unique and specialized product ideas to several food world celebrities for the chance to have their creations launched nationally through The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company grocery chain.

“Almost anyone can cook a great meal,” reads the press release (take that, Masterchef!), “but this is the first food comeptition show that provides a platform for individuals that can change the way millions of Americans shop and eat.”

Last week, we headed out to the preview event at the Smog Shoppe in Los Angeles, Calif. to see what all the fuss was about. Some of the chefs’ products, admittedly, were bland. Others we wished were taken over by the “grown-ups” and made better. A select few, however, we wanted to buy right then and there. Here’s a round-up of the five dishes that impressed us most:

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Fried Chicken Dumplings AKA “Pao! Bao Fried Chicken & Gravy Bao” — Ben VanCleave, Los Angeles, Calif.

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East meets South with these fusion dumplings stuffed with a variety of fillings, including the featured Fried Chicken & Gravy; definitely the most innovative and eye-catching product we saw all day — Appears Episode 101: “Snacks,” September 2

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Frozen Cheesecake Cookie Sandwich AKA the “Smoogy” — Tekisha Collins, Indianapolis, Ind.

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Named by Collins’s son, the “Smoogy” features frozen cheesecake filling sandwiched between a sugar cookie and graham cracker blend — Appears Episode 107: “Baked Goods,” August 12

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Barbecue Shrimp Cocktail Sauce AKA “Famous Flaming Ember BBQ Sauce” — Leon “Torchy Burns” Williams, Valley Village, Calif.

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For anyone who’s tired of boring bottled shrimp cocktails, Williams’ unique twist on barbecue sauce can be served either hot or cold, splattered on ribs or dripping of plump, dangling shrimp — Appears Episode 106: “Barbecue,” September 9

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Crab Pie — Monica VanCleve, Austin, Texas

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Exactly what it sounds like, savory crab baked into a crispy crust like a “crab quiche” — Appears Episode 108, “Dinner Entrees,” September 16

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Chinese Tamales AKA “Chimales” — Dominic Lau, San Gabriel, Calif.

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As owner of LA’s own “Don Chow Taco Truck,” Dominic Lau combines fresh masa stuffed with either Kung Pao Chicken or Chinese BBQ Pork to create his signature fusion dish — Appears Episode 105: “Global Cuisine,” July 29

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Supermarket Superstar premieres Monday July 22 at 10 ET/PT on Lifetime