Perched on eastern China’s Qiandao (“Thousand Island”) Lake are 300 floating steel pens, their waters churning with writhing fish. These are sturgeon, a species native to Russia and Central Asia, much sought after for its roe, which is processed into caviar.
Despite China’s well-deserved notoriety for choking pollution and woeful food safety, the world’s number two economy produces some 35% of all caviar today. And it’s not just a cheap substitute. The Kaluga Queen brand produced on Qiandao Lake—a man-made, 573 square kilometer reservoir about 200 miles southwest of Shanghai—is served in 21 of the 26 Michelin three-starred restaurants in Paris, as well as at superstar French chef Alain Ducasse’s flagship restaurant in Monaco. It was also served to world leaders at the 2016 G20 Summit in Hangzhou. Even so, the brand’s Chinese origin is conspicuously discreet on packaging—at least for now.
“Consumers are realizing that, even though our caviar is […]