A conversation with…

Endika Etxebarria Crego, Echebastar Commercial Chef.

What is a commercial chef?

It’s a role that we believe makes a lot of sense. More and more end customers, particularly from the hospitality sector, are looking for more practical commercial management, with greater culinary value. The client wants to hear about any new ways the product can be used, how to make it shine, how it is best stored, etc. It is an educational role, which is highly valued by the client as the world of tuna is a complex one with many species, formats and preparations.

When and why did you join the Echebastar project?

I’ve been working in hospitality for over 17 years. I worked in various different kitchens, until I moved towards a more commercial role within the sector. During a promotion of Echebastar products, when the ALAKRANA product line had only just been born, I got to know the project and the team and it struck me as being a unique company. As well as the fact that the product really shone, in this very flawed market I was truly surprised by the way the team worked. And they just happened to be looking for someone with my profile, so you could say it was love at first sight! And here we are today.

In culinary terms, what added value does Echebastar’s ALAKRANA tuna offer?

Being the first industrial fishery to use deep-freezing (-60°C) on board its fleet of vessels was a very brave move. And then there is the whole educational process to teach people that when you see Alakrana in a show window or a restaurant it’s not just any old tuna. Using deep-freezing on board ensures that all the qualities, both physical and chemical aspects, are preserved until thawing. Microbiological growth is completely stalled within hours of the fish being removed from its habitat and this comes out in the smoothness and flavour of the meat.

Also, the current obligation to freeze fish means that our clients value our processes even more: as well as saving them work, we guarantee complete food safety.

And why do people often confuse our product with bluefin tuna?

It makes a lot of sense, because, in terms of the colour of the meat, which is what generally guides the end consumer, our tuna is also red like bluefin tuna. However, they are two different species. Our tuna is mostly yellowfin tuna (Thunnus albacares) and skipjack tuna (Katsuwonus pelamis).

Nobody thought that yellowfin tuna deserved such a “refined” processing as deep-freezing and previously it was almost exclusively used for canning, after being preserved on board in brine. But the product has been highly appreciated by the market which is the best way of gauging the success of all the work we’ve put in.

What do you like best about your work?

I’ve always liked working with people. And if I can put into practice the set of skills I’ve learned in hospitality with what I learn every day with our product and processes, I’m a happy man. It’s not about lecturing anyone, but when I see that clients value my comments, take them on board and find them useful in their business, it’s very satisfying. Of course, that’s just the tip of the iceberg of my work, as there are also hours spent on the telephone and in meetings, but it’s when I’m with clients that I most enjoy my job.

I would also highlight the great teamwork. We are a very diverse group of people with different profiles, but we complement each other and I think this can be seen in the atmosphere at work. Everything is made easier when we pool our work and resources to achieve our common goal. I really believe that the end customer perceives this and I’m proud to represent an organisation like this.

What is on the horizon for the ALAKRANA brand?

Although Echebastar is a well-established company, with more than 50 years of experience in fishing, Alakrana is a young brand. We are still working hard to consolidate it in the market, but the foundations are very solid. It is a brand with a lot of credibility because sustainability, innovation and transparency are things we take very seriously. Quality, guarantee and responsibility are attributes that the customer associates with the Alakrana brand and this encourages us to continue improving.

We really are tunalovers and more and more customers are joining us. We will keep on giving them reasons to take this journey with us…

#Alakrana #Echebastar #SomosTunalovers #Atún

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