Supplier Highlight: Meet Eydfinn Tausen with Olympic Seafoods
Sourcing the very best ingredients is one of the hallmarks of our company and one of the most important aspects of our business. We place a priority on finding the best, and are always thrilled when we find exceptional natural sources in our own backyard. Here in the Pacific Northwest that means access to some of the best seafood in the world.
One way we ensure that our guests are served the best is to build relationships with our key suppliers and track the source and quality of the products they provide. We are grateful to Corfini Gourmet, a local food distribution company, for introducing us to an individual we now source from, who is taking product sourcing and transparency to the next level.
Eydfinn Tausen of Olympic Seafoods has created a fish tagging system with information so detailed you know where the fish came from, to the boat who caught it, even the name of the fisherman.
Eydfinn has been a leader in the fishing industry since the early ‘80s, working with Select Fish and later Whole Foods. He always felt there were many under-utilized opportunities in the fishing industry, particularly in Neah Bay. “There’s so much fresh fish!” he kept telling himself, knowing that most of the fresh fish consumed in Seattle is from Alaska and BC. While Neah Bay is a shorter distance at 150 miles, logistics still present a challenge: a windy road and mountain range separates the two and deliveries were not dependable. And with fishing, timing is everything.
He decided to take matters into his own hands and bought a refrigerated truck, and started introducing himself to mostly Makah fisherman in Neah Bay. The people he met had great fishing expertise but didn’t have experience marketing and distributing their product. Eydfinn knew how to do both.
“Most people don’t have any idea where their fish come from,” he explains. “I want to help tell that story. I’m the facilitator. I want the customer to see where their food is coming from.”
Eydfinn Tausen of Olympic Seafoods
One of the boats in the Neah Bay fishing fleet
Beautiful fish caught in Neah Bay
This brand new building, dock and ice house is an open work area where the fish is sorted and weighed for the Makah fisherman in Neah Bay.
Fish are tagged by the Makah fisherman, and the QR code, read through a smart phone, gives information, including the fisherman’s bio.
At El Gaucho Seattle, black cod is marinated in white miso and orange juice. The skin is seared on a plancha grill to get it super crispy, then finished it in the oven.
To help tell that story, Eydfinn created tags for each of the fish when they’re caught, containing a QR code that displays the species, name of the boat, and a bio on the fisherman. The QR code can simply be read through a smart phone, and even guests can take the tag home with them. The tagging process takes time: Eydfinn is hopeful that in 2015 all black cod, halibut and salmon caught in Neah Bay will be tagged.
I tell the fisherman, “If you are proud of your fish – tell your story,” Eydfinn explains. These stories are told through each fish tag sold through Olympic Seafoods.
Eydfinn’s model is working. He knows most of the Neah Bay fisherman, who deliver to a co-op, from where Eydfinn purchases his fish. He currently works with about 30 boats belonging to the co-op, and in most cases, the fish caught are delivered within 24-36 hours. He’s also proud that he’s helping to reduce the carbon footprint to provide fresh fish to consumers.
“We love that we are so close to the source,” says El Gaucho Seattle Executive Chef Matt Brandsey. “The black cod currently on our menu comes directly to us from Neah Bay. By the time we get it, it has only been out if the water for less than 24 hours. Eydfinn works directly with specific fishing families to ensure consistency every time.”
Fishing is a complicated and delicate system, managed by governing bodies from the international level down to local tribunal communities. The quotas and fishing seasons are an intricate balance that’s different every year. ForNeah Bay, a typical year starts primarily with “bottom fish,” such as Petrole and Dover sole, cod and other flat fish varieties. Halibut season typically starts mid-March, and is a very short season in Neah Bay due to quotas – it runs much longer in Alaska and British Columbia, Eydfinn notes.
About a week later, black cod season opens and usually lasts until the beginning of May, which is when King salmon season opens; normally the season can last until mid-September, depending again on set, and met, quotas.. In July,Coho salmon season begins, and in September, black cod reopens and can last until December (like this year). Year round, boats inNeah Bay catch many species of Rock fish, ling cod, and other species of bottom fish.
Our mission is simply to find the best for our patrons and guests to enjoy. No excuses and no compromise. Our family of restaurants constantly works to bring you the best the world has to offer, and thanks to Eydfinn and his team, some of that is from the local waters of Neah Bay.