Food, Food Artisans

New Tuna Swims into Zingerman’s Deli

Zingerman’s Deli recently started using a different brand of tuna on their sandwiches. We caught up with Deli Managing Partner Rodger Bowser to get the lowdown on the new tuna. Here’s what he had to say: 

How did you first hear about Skipanon tuna?

tobago-tunaI first discovered Skipanon through Ari, who had heard about them but hadn’t had the chance to try their products yet. This sparked my interest, so I called them and began emailing with them. I also checked out their website and thought they looked pretty cool. I had the owner, Mark, send us some samples. He send some large bulk cans and a mess of other canned fish. The more I found out about the company and their fish, the more I liked them. This was especially true after I tasted the tuna. After two months, I was able to visit their cannery in Oregon while I was visiting the area. I got to meet the entire crew and watch their production line in motion. It was a wonderful visit and this solidified the new relationship even more.

What can you tell me about Skipanon?

If you want to know more about Skipanon, I’d recommend watching this video that I came across recently. You’ll hear about them straight from Mark Kujala (the owner). His passion for what he does really comes through. Small family-run canneries are sort of a thing of the past. I was surprised to even hear of this small custom cannery, operating out of Warrenton, OR. It was started in the 70’s by Mark’s father, Paul. They can salmon, tuna, steelhead, sturgeon, among other fish. They fish for the salmon on their own boat, and the tuna is hook and line caught from 3 to 4 other boats. They fish using sustainable practices and keep freshness in mind at all times. Their fleets and canneries have multiple certifications and awards in recognition of this too.

What is it about Skipanon tuna that makes it better for our sandwiches and salads?

After tasting the tuna in our recipes, it was a no-brainer. It simply made a better American-style tuna salad. We use a simple, but tasty recipe for our tuna salad, and this tuna is perfect for it. We like to let the tuna do the work. The tuna salad tastes great, and the portioning and moisture of the fish allows for a fluffier texture. Since its cooked in its own juices, we are not draining a bunch of water off the tuna once we open the can. We get cans full of tuna instead of cans of tuna and tuna-flavored water.

Using Skipanon tuna is better for our 3 bottom lines (Great Food, Great Service and Great Finance):

• It’s better tasting.
• It’s full-flavored and traditionally caught and processed.
• Skipanon’s service is the kind of service that we love to give.
• We like to work with companies that do things right.

This tuna will cost more, but it’s well worth the increase in price. I suspect the sandwich price will go up about $1. But this isn’t a bad thing, when you consider how much better this sandwich, costly slightly more, will taste. Our customers know a good thing when they taste it. And, they also know that great ingredients from great companies cost a little more. This increase in cost isn’t due to inefficiency, but rather from the extra time spent carefully crafting a great product, hiring skilled workers, and being an active part of their community. This is a methodology that we understand and can relate to. We want our vendors to be fairly compensated so they can keep doing what they love to do best for a long time to come, and we can create a long-lasting relationship with them.

Stop by the Deli for a taste!