In 1971, a young couple (our parents) received the news. Unlike the joy brought by babies and weddings, their happy news came in the form of a visa to the United States. Within one month they arrived with three small children and a fourth on the way, with one suitcase each in hand and a great deal of faith.
By 1973, our father was busy working hard to provide for his family. By happenstance, he saw the opportunity to create a product that he was closely acquainted with, but was not yet available in the Los Angeles marketplace — high quality fresh cheese, also known as queso fresco.
After several late night kitchen table discussions, our parents decided to take a gigantic leap of faith with their hard-earned savings of $1,500 and began the journey of a lifetime. In 1973, they founded our company and named it “Cacique”. In Latin America, the name signifies the chief of a tribe, the ultimate authority, the very best and the pinnacle of experience. During those early years, Dad taught Mom how to make cheese and he sold and delivered the fruits of their labor with us pitching in after school and in summer. Our first year was hard but well worth it and soon we hired our first employees and the dream began to take flight.
Now young entrepreneurs, they harnessed our father’s old-world knowledge of cheese-making and adeptness at chemistry and science with their furious work ethic and strong moral character. Over the years our parents’ guiding principles have helped us overcome many obstacles. The old-world cheese making, and passion for our culture have resulted in our commitment to authenticity and tradition. The merging of science and chemistry led to the realization of state-of-the-art facilities that use the latest global cheese making and meat processing technology to create authentic old-world products.
Now four decades later, we are the largest fresh cheese maker in the United States and are proud to provide the best selling chorizos in the marketplace. Our family conscientiously strives every day to make the highest quality cheese, cream, chorizo and yogurt products in the marketplace. We are proud of the fact that we now have several generations of colleagues working at the company and many of our best customers have been with us since the early days. Over the decades, the business grew and we moved from facility to larger facility so that we could continue to serve our new customers.
Cacique’s founders, Gilbert and Jennie de Cardenas, are our family’s inspiration and guiding light. Jennie retired when the grandchildren arrived and Gilbert is partially retired, as he likes to say, but his passion and his drive are as strong as ever. On any given day you’ll find him in that corner office more often than not.
Now, day-to-day, we, the de Cardenas children, lead a professional management team at Cacique. We were raised here and we watched the plant grow from one tiny cheese-making operation to several facilities and distribution centers located throughout the country. We have all been involved in the business every step of the way, working many summers, vacations and after college.
Today and as long as our doors are open, our parents’ vision is our own and we stay true to it. Their vibrant legacy to us is captured in our pillars logo that is boldly present on every one of our Cacique products, representing family, quality, integrity and authenticity.
We are very proud of our parents, our teams, our company and of what we do here at Cacique. It is our hope that you enjoy and appreciate our products now that you know our story.
Gilbert B. de Cardenas
Ana de Cardenas- Raptis
Maria de Cardenas- Krakovic
Antonio de Cardenas