Tiny Fish takes tinned seafood way past tuna

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Sara Hauman gained national attention in 2021 when she was one of the competitors on “Top Chef.” But her love for the culinary world began long before she became a kitchen pro.

“From a very, very early age I realized that food was a way that I could experience a culture and a country even without actually having to get on a plan and travel there,” Hauman told KOIN 6 News.

But she did travel and explore new flavors during 2 stints in Spain — one during a gap year after high school in the South and then again when she was hired as a chef in the North.

Sara Hauman is the founder of the Tiny Fish Company in Oregon, January 2024 (KOIN)
Sara Hauman is the founder of the Tiny Fish Company in Oregon, January 2024 (KOIN)

“I think that’s where I really started kind of getting the wheels turning for the whole tinned fish thing,” she said. “I was on a bit of a budget when I was there. And so for me, an easy meal was always a baguette and some cream cheese — because they love their cream cheese in the Basque region — and whatever can of fish that I could find that was an easy, delicious, satisfying and cost-effective dinner for myself, or lunch, whatever it may be.”

For years, Hauman had thoughts of owning her own tinned seafood company.

“I finally decided to do the ‘Top Chef’ show and, you know, they asked me what my dream would be and I said it and they aired it.”

After a friend saw that episode, he urged her to make her dream come true and became her first investor.

“One of my goals, I think, is with this company highlighting the abundant species that we have on the West Coast that maybe are a little bit overlooked,” she said.

Sara Hauman is the founder of the Tiny Fish Company in Oregon (Courtesy photo
Sara Hauman is the founder of the Tiny Fish Company in Oregon (Courtesy photo)

Now, the Tiny Fish Company is hoping to make a big splash in an ocean of canned seafood, going well beyond the tuna we all know.

“For me, it was important to say, ‘Hey, tuna is great, but what if we canned something like rockfish?’ Rockfish is really high in protein and it’s really good for you. And not only that, it is wild caught here in Oregon, it’s a regenerative resource because it’s wild,” Hauman said. “We have so, so much of it.”

And she’s doing more than fish.

There is a chorizo spiced mussels and a canned octopus with lemon and dill.

Tiny Fish Company uses bold, fun flavors with a promise to be transparent about how the food is made. Sara Hauman hopes more and more people will want to give tinned foods a try.

“I can quite honestly tell you exactly the whole process, from start to finish, from me sourcing the fish from how I developed the recipes,” she said. “I own those recipes.”

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