ASPA Member Feature: Captain’s Fine Foods, LLC
April 2, 2021
Captain’s Fine Foods was founded by businessman Mac Chen, who grew up in his family’s successful seafood business. He emigrated with his family to the United States from Taiwan in 1976 but didn’t like the climate in Chicago so he and his family, including young daughter Irene, moved South to Tampa, a city whose history is deeply rooted in the seafood business.
A natural innovator, Mac Chen saw that no one was selling mullet, which is plentiful in the Gulf, so he began shipping whole mullet to Taiwan, where the fish’s roe is prized.
“Mr. Chen was very instrumental in developing the domestic mullet roe business, which is huge, and it is a big part of our business today during the mullet roe season,” said David Gautier, vice president of operations.
This international venture and other business successes have earned Mac Chen respect throughout the seafood industry. Irene Chen, the managing partner in Captain’s Fine Foods, carries on the tradition with her hands-on involvement and dedication to growing the family business, which includes seafood trading, a U.S. tuna vessel fleet, and foreign seafood processing plants.
When Mr. Chen added the Tampa company to his holdings, Captain’s Fine Foods was primarily a breading plant. He expanded the operation to include a domestic shrimp processing operation with the highest of standards.
“Mac is an innovator and he saw the opportunity to get into the domestic shrimp business like he did with the mullet.”
The company leadership headed by Mac Chen has decades of experience in the seafood industry. Said Gautier, “Irene is third generation, I’m third generation and between the three of us, we have more than 100 years in this business.”
In addition to the multigenerational company leadership, the employees at Captain’s Fine Seafood form a supportive and productive group. “Everybody here works as a team, from Mac on down. Everybody is well respected, they love what they do and work together like a big family,” said Gautier.
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