by Minnie Zhang, Volunteer Writer
Kane’s Kitchen was officially founded in 2018. But the Kane salsa experience began back in 2012 as a Christmas tradition. Striving to gift their children’s teachers something more than just a classic mug, the Kanes made their own gifts. Trafford Kane and his wife, Courtney, started out with jams and jellies, and then salsa. The latter proved so popular that local teachers began hoping for Kane children in their classroom so that they, too, could taste the mouthwateringly fresh salsa that accompanied the younger Kanes. In fact, their neighbors began buying salsa from the Kanes to gift their own teachers!
In December 2018, Trafford opted to turn salsa into more than just a teacher’s gift. “This is the hardest I’ve ever worked without a paycheck, but I don’t feel like I’ve worked a day in the past four years,” says Trafford.
Today, Kane’s Kitchen offers six different flavors for all palates, from sweet to savory to spicy. The Kanes enjoy their salsa over breakfast eggs with avocado or chicken breast with rice. Their most popular product is their grilled-pineapple salsa, the perfect sweet-yet-savory accompaniment for pita chips. Trafford’s personal favorite is their best-selling runner-up, the savory corn and black bean that feels just “like a meal in a jar.”
Trafford grew up in Westport, Massachusetts, as part of the seafood restaurant industry. The New England native cites consistency and quality as priorities when sourcing ingredients. “There are no answers to growing a business,” says Trafford when recalling the early days of Kane’s Kitchen. “You have to be a little bit fearless and see it to the end.”
He cites community support as vital on days when doubts emerged. Community and family are core values for Trafford, and he is committed to buying local whenever possible. He sources his corn from a farm in Massachusetts. As a small-business owner, Trafford hand-shucks his corn and bags it all himself. Sometimes, his son helps him box jars. As a Farm Fresh RI producer partner, Kane’s Kitchen reaches wholesale buyers as well as home shoppers through our Market Mobile local food distribution service. And you can find the Kanes selling their unique salsas seasonally at Farm Fresh farmers markets too.
“If you see your vision through you’ll get there. The proof is in the pudding,” Trafford reflects.
In the future, Kane’s Kitchen plans to find a brand strategist and aim for national recognition — expanding on the local and regional reach Kane’s Kitchen has through Market Mobile. For now, you can find Kane’s Kitchen stocked in stores all across the New England region. Trafford focuses on stores committed to offering organic, all-natural, and fresh produce. As a new entrepreneur, he would drive across New England, traveling as far as 120 miles to feel out potential stores and their owners. It is clear people can taste the difference. Luckily now Market Mobile does some of that footwork for him.
“A lot of people say the salsa tastes so fresh you would never think it comes from a jar,” says Trafford. He’s still a big believer in face-to-face feedback, often frequenting farmers markets and trade shows. The most memorable feedback he’s ever received? “A woman tried the salsa and said it tastes so fresh, I don’t want to share it with my chips,” he recalls.
For more images liek those shown here, follow @kaneskitchensalsa on Instagram.