SACRAMENTO, Calif. — You don't have to try hard to get head chef Derek Sawyer of restaurant Allora to talk about caviar.

What You Need To Know

  • California produces over 80% of U.S. caviar

  • Sacramento is known as the caviar capital of the U.S.

  • White sturgeon is native to the Sacramento area

  • The global caviar market is projected to double by 2030

“My favorite ways to eat caviar are the easiest and simplest ways,” Sawyer said. “Mostly to showcase the eggs themselves, not to overpower the fish eggs in general.”

The restaurant, Sawyer said, goes through two to three tins a week.

What’s more unique is the sturgeon eggs Sawyer is plating aren’t from overseas, but down the road, another important aspect, he said.

“We absolutely — 100% — are built around the ingredients,” Sawyer said. “We try to consider ourselves hyper-local, and we use mostly local California ingredients.”

White sturgeon is native to the Sacramento area of Allora, and the caviar on their menu hails from the Tsar Nicolai white sturgeon farm about 30 minutes southeast.

The Sacramento Valley has become known as the caviar capital of the U.S., accounting for over 80% of U.S.-harvested caviar.

According to the EU Fisheries, the U.S. caviar only accounts for 18 of the 380 tons produced globally. The global caviar market is expected to double by 2030 to nearly a billion dollars.

General manager of Tsar Nicoulai Auggie Wilms said their caviar may not be the size of the well-known beluga caviar found near Russia, but it more than makes up for size in taste.

“Egg sizing some of the beluga eggs are a lot bigger, 4 millimeters and up,” Wilms said. “We don’t have that kind of size, but texture, taste, butteriness, nuttiness, we have all those. It’s a phenomenal product.”

Wilms said the sustainable methods used to farm the prehistoric fish are just as important.

Using solar panels to partly offset their energy use, using duckweed to limit water evaporation and employing hyacinth plants to filter the fish waste to reuse 75% of the sturgeon pond water.

“It’s worked really well for us,” Wilms said. “What’s also so good about this system is it is very easy to manage. There’s only one pump station to run all this water.”

Wilms said they are building a new filtration system that will allow them to reuse 98% of water from the fishpond.

It’s these methods, along with the caviar taste and the company’s efforts to use every part of the fish after eggs are harvested, that Sawyer said draws him to the company.

“We’re going to start getting our sturgeon smoked from him as well,” he said.

Sawyer said more people are becoming interested in caviar, and he said he’s glad to be a place where people can discover new foods with a great local connection.