PORTLAND, ORE. — A former “Top Chef” contestant is launching a canned seafood brand. Sara Hauman’s Tiny Fish Co. highlights sustainably sourced species local to the Pacific Northwest, such as rockfish and geoduck.
“A lot of times you eat tinned fish and it’s kind of just the same,” Ms. Hauman said. “My idea was to be different and take inspiration from the saucy tinned fish you find in some parts of Spain and Portugal and the really cool saucy tinned fish you find in Asia and to make it my own and give our national audience a little bit of a different viewpoint and perspective when it comes to tinned fish.”
Initial offerings include smoked mussels en escabeche (a Spanish-style marinade); rockfish in sweet soy sauce; octopus in butter, lemon and dill; and smoked geoduck with black pepper. The products will be available online at thetinyfishco.com and in regional specialty retailers.
Ms. Hauman, a two-time James Beard Rising Star semi-finalist who cooked at top-rated restaurants in California and Spain, said the brand reflects her creative personality and culinary style, with a “Spongebob meets anime” packaging design and simple yet elevated preparations.
“For me, the biggest compliment is from people who know me to not only look at the box and say, ‘I know Sara made this,’ but to also eat the product and say, ‘I know Sara made this because it’s kind of crazy, kind of out there, but delicious,’” she said.
Her long-term aspiration is to own her canning operations so she can offer a broader selection of seafood sourced from small fisheries. She currently partners with a contract manufacturer.
“When I have my own setup, I can really dive deep into using not salmon, not albacore, not oysters, but bring in the local catches that are coming,” she said. “Right now, I need such a mass amount of fish that I have to be a little bit choosy in what I’m using.”
A handful of species account for most of the fish consumed in the United States, she said, noting Americans should cast a wider net to ease the environmental burdens of overfishing.“My whole goal is to get people to eat more locally and to diversify the fish they’re eating,” she said.