If the facilities are modest, the staff of about fifteen employees work in a good mood from dawn. More than 250 kilos of fresh seaweed are processed each week at the NAAS premises, in addition to the 600 kilos of fish processed each day.
The small business founded in 2019 by Jordan White and Stevie Dennis supplies the best restaurants in the area. Its seaweed products can be found in the company’s boutique and at a host of retailers on the island and elsewhere in the province.
Today, business is going well, but the beginnings were difficult. At the time, NAAS – a word in the Aboriginal language that connotes daylight, the creative and the real – was dedicated to the cultivation of kelp for the manufacture of fertilizer products.
” At the time, we had a hard time making ourselves known and interesting potential buyers. And then, our facilities were too small for this kind of operation. We learned a lot from our beginnings. »
The perseverance and ingenuity of Jordan White, a recent graduate from the University of Victoria, and Stevie Dennis, a member of the Ahousaht First Nation in Tofino, will pay off.
The duo quickly reviewed their business plan and decided to specialize in food production, while keeping their original vision of creating a business that contributes to the recognition and development of the local Aboriginal community.
In 2021, the duo decides to diversify its offer by offering fishing products.
” We get our supplies exclusively from some thirty native fishermen in the region. All fish, seaweed and crabs come from the waters of Clayoquot Sound, within a radius of approximately 100 miles. »
Xavier Boisjoli-Morin is production manager of the NAAS fishmonger. Originally from Montreal, this former restaurateur has been based in Tofino for almost 10 years.
” At NAAS, four species of fish are processed, including salmon and black cod. Everything is smoked cold or hot, and even “candid“, the salmon is marinated in a sweet soy and brown sugar sauce, before being smoked. »
NAAS has also launched a line of gourmet seaweed products, including seaweed flakes, dried, plain or smoked, and an assortment of seasonings.
We use wood chips from a small sawmill in Chemainus, explains Jordan White. After several experiments, we found the perfect blend (we keep the recipe secret!). This is the same recipe used to smoke salmon. Everything is done here, in our facilities.
More recently, NAAS launched two products
ready-to-eat that will appeal to lovers of fresh seaweed: the seaweed salad with its sesame and soy sauce, as well as cubes of cold-fermented seaweed, tasteless and odorless, to slip into soups,
smoothies and sauces.
The company also sells dishes to take away or eat on site opposite the marina. The NAAS bowl, a salmon or tuna poké, or the seaweed salad are tasty and worth the detour. Simple, nutritious and healthy foods.