Founder Focus: Aki Kaltenbach, founder of Save Da Sea

Continue reading Founder Focus: Aki Kaltenbach, founder of Save Da Sea

In a world increasingly moving beyond meat, fish lovers will not be left behind — thanks in large part to Aki Kaltenbach. After transitioning to a plant-based diet in 2018, Kaltenbach began searching for seafood alternatives, for herself and customers of her family’s Japanese restaurant chain, which she then managed. Working in the food biz, she was well-versed in recipe development, but brought on a food scientist to help her shape what would eventually become Save Da Sea’s proprietary plant-based smoked “salmon,” a first in the market.

Made from carrots, and boasting a smoky flavour and similar texture to well-loved lox, Kaltenbach’s creation is a welcome addition for vegans and bagel enthusiasts who aren’t so keen on contributing to record-low salmon stocks. “It never ceases to amaze me how many seafood eaters enjoy our product,” Kaltenbach says. “Maybe we’re not replacing seafood entirely — which isn’t our message — but we want to help people looking to reduce their intake of animal proteins. We try to be as inclusive and optimistic as possible.”

My why: “I want to help create a world where we no longer need to kill fish to enjoy seafood.”

My blue-sky goal: “To build a global plant-based seafood brand.”

My proudest (and most challenging) moments: “I came up with the idea for Save Da Sea while running my family’s Japanese restaurants. It was a side hustle for over a year before I finally [sketched] the idea out enough to give me the courage to make the leap from employee to entrepreneur. It was a scary step — especially with a baby on the way — as [success] was far from a sure thing. It’s still scary. I’m not sure it will ever feel 100 percent secure, but I feel very privileged for the opportunities that have come my way and people I’ve met as a result.”

My best lesson: “The more I learn, the more I know how much I don’t actually know.”

My greenest habit: “The one vehicle we own in our family is an electric Chevy Bolt, and we’ve had it for three years. There’s nowhere it can’t go — although, I did have to get it towed out of a snowy parking lot once.”

My unique strength: I’m relatively chill — even when shit hits the fan — and I think my team would say this about me, too. I built this muscle over many years working in the restaurant biz, where it was inevitable that you would get slammed out of nowhere. All you could do was stay calm and carry on.”

My late-night preoccupation: “As an entrepreneur with a two-and-a-half-year-old, I tend to use the time after he goes to sleep to catch-up on emails I didn’t get to during the day.”

A sustainable brand I love:Ecologyst. Their clothes are made from all-natural materials, no plastics, and mostly made in Canada, with an increasing amount of products made here in Victoria. (Full disclosure: The founder of the brand happens to be my husband. But I do truly love it; it’s all I wear.)”

Best way to eat Save Da Sea “salmon”: “On a toasted bagel with avocado and cream cheese — vegan or not!”

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    Made in Canada


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