Thanks to the Frenchfounders network, we had the pleasure of meeting Stéphanie Fels, a solopreneur who bootstrapped Blue Cove Preserves, an artisanal brand of premium tinned fish that recently won the highly coveted Good Food Award.

Growing up in a multicultural household between her parents’ native countries, France and Ecuador, Stephanie Fels created Blue Cove Preserves to bring the quality and culture of tinned fish she grew up with in Europe to the United States, by producing these canned delights domestically while honoring responsible aquaculture and sustainable manufacturing practices.

“In Europe, in countries like France, Spain, or Portugal, there’s a true culture of enjoying tinned fish in a convivial manner, which I really wanted to develop in the United States. The idea for Blue Cove came to me during one of my regular family visits to France. We opened some high-quality canned seafood and served it with charcuterie and fine cheese. I realized that this culinary tradition didn’t really exist in the United States, and there weren’t high-quality options here either.”


From FinTech to Tinned Fish

After a 15-year career in FinTech in New York, the Franco-Ecuadorian decided to pursue her passion by launching one of the first premium tinned fish artisanal brands in the United States. The rising popularity of “gourmet” tinned fish and the lack of offerings in this product category in the American market created an ideal opportunity for Stéphanie.

“So far, tinned fish has been mostly commercialized in the low or mid-range ends of the US market, so I wanted to create a brand made with premium fish like cod, branzino, sea bass, or halibut.”

During the pandemic lockdown, as many Americans experimented with sourdough bread recipes at home, Stephanie tested her fish recipes in her New York kitchen using her pressure cooker and followed a seafood safety certification program.

In September 2023, she took the plunge and launched Blue Cove Preserves right in the midst of the growing craze for tinned fish. At that time, The New York Times devoted a cookbook to this emerging trend titled “The Magic of Tinned Fish.” The beginning of a beautiful success story for Stephanie.


A Commitment to Sustainability

Rather than outsourcing production abroad, as many American canned fish companies do, Stephanie partnered with an American cannery to produce the country’s only tinned branzino.

To overcome the stigma around farmed versus wild-caught fish, Stephanie works with a farm in Connecticut that uses eco-friendly processes, such as closed-loop aquaculture technology, ensuring fish free of hormones, GMOs, and chemicals.

“We mainly source locally in the United States and use artisanal techniques to cook the fish. Our chef cooks the fish sauces by hand. The only automated process we use with a machine is for sealing the cans and heating them in a pressurized environment,” explains Stéphanie.

Following strict sustainability requirements, Blue Cove Preserves products have received a green rating from the Monterey Seafood Watch, the authority in the United States for environmentally certifying marine-origin products.

The products are packaged in zero-waste packaging. The cans are made of aluminum, a highly recyclable material, and the cardboard boxes are FSC certified and recyclable.

Their closed-loop production system also ensures the most optimal waste management of all forms of fish production.


Good Food Award Winner

Blue Cove Preserves, was just honored by the Good Food Award—a recognition that celebrates brands producing food responsibly in the United States, focusing on the organic origin of products—a delicious victory for Stephanie.

“I’m very grateful to be among the Good Food Award winners in the first year of commercializing the brand —it’s an incredible honor,” says Stephanie Fels.

To win this award, products must be GMO-free, developed according to strict animal husbandry standards (without artificial ingredients, hormones, pesticides, herbicides, or synthetic fertilizers), and manufactured locally in the United States.

In the canned fish category, particular attention is paid to nutritional quality, ensuring that fish are fed with marine and plant-based sources. This award truly crowns the success and excellence of Blue Cove Preserves products.


Selective Distribution

If the story of Blue Cove Preserves, whets your appetite, you can find Blue Cove Preserve tins at one of the region’s forty points of sale, including Good Eggs, gourmet food stores such as Alimentari Aurora or Little Vine in San Francisco, or also at Four Barrel or The Mill. These delicate fish tins are also available in hotel minibars and tasting rooms at wineries bars.

With the success encountered during its first year of commercialization (and e-commerce sales in over 25 U.S. States), Stephanie now plans to expand the distribution of her products to other regions, and even beyond US borders. She remains confident in the face of the arrival of new premium canned fish brands on the market, stating that “it’s a rising tide that lifts all boats.”


New Horizons

To expand her offering, Stephanie is working on launching new products based on cod and plans to collaborate with a Michelin-starred chef in the near future.

Separately, she invests as an angel investor in various projects, including Rise, a company offering a blockchain-based payment solution to simplify the payment of independent workers.

Recently settled in San Francisco, Stephanie envisions a longer-term career transition into the heart of Silicon Valley’s breakthrough technologies such as artificial intelligence or quantum computing..

Nothing stops Stephanie in her quest for innovation and new challenges.

Find Blue Cove Preserves products at https://bluecovefish.com/ and https://www.instagram.com/bluecovefish/

This meeting was made possible thanks to Frenchfounders, the international Francophone business network. Are you an entrepreneur, investor or corporate executive interested in joining a business club? Get in touch with Frenchfounders via Clara Bousquet, based in San Francisco (c.bousquet@frenchfounders.com).



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