By Christine Blank, SeafoodSource contributing editor
Published on 30 April, 2013
On 1 May, Jose Andres, celebrity chef, launched the U.S. Jose Andres Foods grocery line that includes canned Sardines in Olive Oil and Mussels in “Escabeche,” along with seafood paella kits. Andres, the president of ThinkFoodGroup, the operator of numerous restaurants — and TV personality — talked to SeafoodSource about how his products were developed and where they will be distributed.
Blank: Why did you want to feature seafood in Jose Andres Foods’ Tapas products and Paella Kits?
Andres: Seafood is so important to Spanish cuisine, and we have been able to develop methods that keep the integrity and goodness of fresh, quality seafood easily preserved, especially in canning. This is so important to the Mediterranean diet; it is so healthy and delicious.
Explain why you opted for canned and packaged seafood products rather than fresh or frozen.
In Spain, canned foods are very common and some of the best in the world. As a Spaniard, I am very proud to be able to share our tradition of canning and show how you can make an amazingly simple meal with canned seafood just like we do back home.
I am really excited about the Paella Kits that we are also launching. These are also not frozen or refrigerated, but are a combination of ingredients. The rice comes in a bag and the broth (fish or vegetable stock) preserved in a can with other ingredients — fish, calamari, vegetables for example — to guarantee freshness and flavor. The paella could not be more simple to prepare. We will start with an amazing collection of seafoods and also an assortment of paella and rice products including: vegetable, seafood, arroz negro (calamari, squid ink and rice), and fideua (fried pasta with calamari).
How long have you worked on developing these products? Which companies did you work with on recipes and product development?
I’ve probably been working on this project since I first arrived in America over 20 years ago. Through my restaurants, TV shows, cookbooks and many events, we have been sharing with America the amazing ingredients and products of Spain. Over the past two years, I was able to work with some of my favorite producers — artisans committed to their craft — and select my favorite ingredients, the best items to bring to the US. Each partner in my collection, including Galician Seafood, has an amazing story and tradition of excellence.
Where does José Andrés Foods source the seafood for its products?
Some of the best seafood in the world comes off the Galician coast in Northeastern Spain. Here you’ll find rough wild seas, rich in nutrients. Our clams, mussels, and other seafoods are harvested and prepared right there by our partners at Los Peperetes to preserve their flavor and freshness.
The white tuna is line-caught by my friends at La Pescadora in the Cantabrian Sea in the north of Spain, and this superior fish called Bonito del Norte is known all over the world. I am proud to work with these partners because of the efforts they go to in preserving tradition, taking sustainable actions and focusing on wild-caught seafood, not only for the nutritional value found in the rich seas, but also to lessen the impact on the seas and maintain their trade.
Why do you think tapas and paella are becoming so popular in the U.S.?
The way we are eating is changing. People like variety, they like to share plates, and smaller plates [are more common] but they also have more flavors. Tapas are perfect in that way. Rice dishes like paella are rich and satisfying, and can be made with easy effort, if you have the best ingredients.
Where is the Jose Andres Foods’ product line being sold?
Our products will be available in select independent retailers and specialty shops beginning in May, and we plan to grow this as we grow our products. We want to find retailers who also believe in our mission to share the best of Spain, offering unique and flavorful products. The beauty is that these items are so versatile, they can be a simple shared dish, a tapa, or a sophisticated presentation — you can decide. It’s that easy.