Travel exposes you to things that are very different from your quotidian life. It’s easy to get caught up in the rut of your own small universe and, you know, think things are that way universally. Every time I travel, I have the same experience of recognizing that there are so many different ways to live life. My travels to Spain and Portugal specifically, very much changed my own life… I was exposed to something that did not exist in any real way in my own sphere. So it can radically, radically transform your life, as it turns out.
The autonomy that I have running my own business. I exist in that space where I can do whatever I want, my team can do whatever we want. Just knowing that we have that sort of limitlessness kind of puts me in a creative state of mind in perpetuity. You have this rare opportunity to build something completely your own in whatever way you want to do it. I recognize how rare that sort of privilege is. So I’m always in that mindset. Every day I wake up, and I think: What can we do? What new thing can we begin?
In college, I lived abroad in southern Spain and then spent a week in Portugal, in Lisbon and Sintra. Every American that travels to Portugal has this experience where you go into one of these conservas and you think, Oh, my God, what the hell is this? I’ve never seen anything like this before. That was my experience too. It really just stuck with me.
It was during COVID, and I noticed a real excitement, an enthusiasm to the point of obsession, around tinned fish in my peer group. It aligned with the way that we were shopping at that time; try to limit grocery store trips and get shelf-stable food with a strong nutritional profile. And then, the culinary media, people like Alison Roman and David Chang we’re out there just espousing the benefits of tinned fish. But there was literally no brand in the US responding to this huge latent demand. When I noticed it, I thought, Oh, my God, this is insane, and started working on the company the next day.
The relationship that people have with food in Portugal, and many other European countries, is just a lot deeper than it is here in the US. They spend so much time deeply connecting over food and drink, in the US we still speed through and are much more divorced from that cultural heritage. Portugal, obviously, is famous for their incredibly high-quality seafood. That’s for a lot of reasons, like the quality and flavors in that particular part of the ocean, which is called merroir, but also the relationships between the local fishery, the canary, and the restaurants. You’re kind of tasting the years of tradition and institutional knowledge.
The baked goods.