Wednesday Wisdom

January 30, 2024

For Kings and Commoners: The Weird History of Caviar


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Did you know that caviar used to be so cheap in the United States that it was given away for free in bars just to encourage patrons to drink? It’s true! Caviar—the delicacy that was once reserved for British royalty—was as cheap as popcorn and peanuts in the U.S. How did such a common food become a symbol of opulence and the epitome of fine dining? Read on to learn the wild and wacky history of caviar.

What is Caviar?

First, let’s get our terminology straight.

Not all fish eggs are caviar.

According to all the regulatory agencies that determine this kind of thing, the word “caviar” refers to the salt-cured, unfertilized eggs of a certain group of fish called sturgeon. The eggs of any other kind of fish are called “roe,” and even though they may be delicious, they aren’t caviar.

Unfortunately, the United States has not been very strict about regulating how the term is used, so the word “caviar” can get confusing in this country. You might see packaging that advertises “salmon caviar” or “trout caviar” when what’s inside is really salmon or trout roe. If that’s what you’re looking for, then great! Just understand that it’s not actual caviar. Don’t get us wrong; we love roe and will gladly serve it to guests or eat it at home. But it’s important to understand what you’re eating and what you’re paying for.

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The Weird History of Caviar

People have been enjoying caviar at least as far back as the Crusades in the 1200s and probably much earlier than that. Cultures around the Caspian Sea and Black Sea, especially Russia and Persia (now Iran), harvested caviar from huge sturgeon populations that once swam there. In fact, the word “caviar” came from the Persian word khâvyâr, meaning “egg-bearing.”

When caviar reached Europe in the 1500s, it was all the rage and was generally reserved for royalty and social elites. In Britain, sturgeon were even designated “royal fish” which meant that, by law, any sturgeon that was caught immediately became the property of the monarch.

Meanwhile, in the American colonies, European immigrants discovered that sturgeon were abundant in American waters. In fact, native tribes had been eating sturgeon and their eggs for thousands of years. In the early years of Jamestown (the first permanent English settlement in America) sturgeon and caviar were the primary food that saved the colonists from starvation.

Knowing that sturgeon and caviar could fetch a high price in Europe, the Jamestown colony sent boatloads of sturgeon back to Britain, but the fish were too perishable to survive the long voyage, especially during the hot summer months when sturgeon were plentiful in the James River. As the Virginia colony became more established, sturgeon fell out of favor with the colonists. They considered it food for the lower class, livestock, and slaves.

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Caviar’s Rise and Fall (and Rise)

The strange history of caviar took a surprising turn in the mid-1800s when thousands of new European immigrants to the U.S. began to favor sturgeon as a cheap source of meat. At the same time, European supplies of caviar were drying up due to overfishing. If there’s one thing Americans have never failed to do, it’s to identify a demand in the market and make money off it!

Caviar processing plants began springing up along the East Coast. For two decades, America became the leading exporter of caviar to Europe! But, just as Americans drove the passenger pigeon to extinction and decimated the immense herds of buffalo, it didn’t take long to wipe out the sturgeon. From 7 million pounds of sturgeon that were caught in 1887, the East Coast sturgeon populations plummeted until just 20,000 pounds were caught in 1905. By 1989, that number was down to 400 pounds.

In another weird twist, much of that caviar that was shipped to Europe was then reshipped back to America and sold as “Russian caviar” at a higher price. Meanwhile, American caviar that didn’t have that “Russian” label was being given away for free in bars as an inducement for patrons to buy more drinks.

As the East Coast populations of sturgeon disappeared, caviar producers moved on to the Great Lakes and then to the Pacific Northwest where sturgeon populations soon suffered the same fate. Overfishing, water pollution, and habitat loss have plagued all of the world’s sturgeon populations. Today, sturgeon are endangered or threatened everywhere on earth.

But the story isn’t over. For these magnificent fish that have been around since the age of the dinosaurs, these amazing creatures that can live for 100 years and reach sizes over 2,000 pounds, there may be some good news.

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A New Hope

In 2022, Iran, Russia, and the other countries bordering the Caspian Sea renewed a ban on the fishing of sturgeon in that body of water. Similar laws and regulations are meant to protect sturgeon populations in the U.S. and many other countries, and these conservation efforts have prevented sturgeon extinction despite a thriving black-market for caviar.

Although America’s wild sturgeon populations have never really recovered, producers have developed other ways to meet demands for caviar. Today, nearly all the caviar consumed or produced in the U.S. comes from surgeon raised on aquafarms. Additionally, American producers have promoted some excellent alternatives to true caviar, including “red salmon caviar” and “golden whitefish caviar.” Political unrest in Russia and Iran, historically the two main suppliers of caviar for most of history, has widened the door for American caviar and caviar substitutes to become more popular.

While you aren’t likely to catch bars giving away free caviar anymore, you can still find quality caviar or caviar alternatives at reasonable prices if you know where to look. Keep an eye on this page next month to see our tips on how to buy, prepare, serve, and enjoy quality caviar.

Eat well!

May 15, 2013

Woodland Whimsy Wedding on Style Me Pretty! | Wednesday Wisdom


8f2101003604a827d52373320541f3c4 We loved this GORGEOUS woodland whimsy wedding (which was featured in Salt Lake/Park City Bride& Groom Magazine and you can see our post on that here) - and even more amazing?  It was featured on Style Me Pretty!  You can see their post here.  This day was STUNNING and working with fabulous vendors like Sarah Winward of Honey of a Thousand Flowers, Mara of Events by LMG, and Julie of Layers made it all the better!  Definitely check out the beauty of this wedding on Style Me Pretty!  You won't regret it!  Happy planning everyone! Check out more on Salt Lake City, Park City, and Utah County catering on! Photo by Jesse Erasmus Photography

May 8, 2013

Ranch Chic Wedding, Part 1 | Wednesday Wisdom


Today, I have another STUNNING wedding from last year that we just LOVE, LOVE, LOVE.  This wedding was packed full with so much loveliness, that I need to split it up into 3 more manageable morsels.  Today - the venue!  This ranch chic wedding was held at the High Star Ranch in Kamas, Utah and it is simply a perfect picturesque balance of rustic elements and natural beauty.  The couple chose to host their wedding here to show their out of town guests the splendor of the Utah mountains, but they didn't stop there.  The decor and food definitely took this wedding from pretty to GORGEOUS.  Seriously, so awesome, but lets start with the venue which set the scene for this amazing day.  Check it out! HoversonVenue The heavenly skies set off the lush mountain views perfectly.  The High Star Ranch is a one-of-a-kind venue that we can't get enough of! HoversonVenue2 We loved the sprawling layout of this event complete with a lounge area, dinner tables, multiple action stations, oyster shack, bean bag toss, and dance floor - the guest had plenty to see and do! HoversonVenue3 Isn't this just the most beautiful ceremony location?  A babbling brook, enormous shade tree, the base of a mountain - all together, just PERFECT!  We loved the way this ceremony set the tone for this gorgeous day. HoversonVenue5 Aren't these tables amazing?  We'll show you more of the pretty details, but we loved the natural color palette with the bright citrus pops.  A lovely combination for this mountain setting.  Plus the barn is hands down one of my favorite spaces!  Love the strung lights, rough hewn beams, and the character of it.  Just a great addition to this beautiful venue! HoversonVenue4 Don't you just love this place?  I can't wait to show you more from this wedding - because, believe me, it gets SO much better!  Stay tuned everyone!  Happy planning! Check out more Salt Lake City, Park City, and Utah County catering on!

April 24, 2013

Catersource Spotlights Culinary Crafts | Wednesday Wisdom


We at Culinary Crafts are still so AMAZED by our wins at Catersource this year!  Even more amazing?  Catersource did this wonderful spotlight of Culinary Crafts that we just couldn't help but share!  Check it out here.  This spotlight was due to our win of the ACE award in the Western division including caterers in California, Seattle, Hawaii, and Denver.  The ACE award is definitely the top award at Catersource and the competition was very stiff indeed!  Thank you, thank you, thank you to Catersource!  Happy reading everyone! Check out more on Salt Lake City, Park City, and Utah County catering at!

March 13, 2013

IT’S OFFICIAL! | Wednesday Wisdom


Oh my goodness!  It's official!  Culinary Crafts has won the ACE award AND the CATIE award for Caterer of the Year!  We are just so thankful and thrilled at this news and feel truly blessed to have such accolades.  We at Culinary Crafts always strive to be the best - and these awards are the cherry on top for all of the hard work everyone at Culinary Crafts does!  This is amazing, and we couldn't wait to share it with you!  Apart from this awesome, awesome news, we are still learning everything we can at Catersource, and can't wait to show you the newest tips and trends in the culinary world, too!  Happy Wednesday everyone! Check out more Salt Lake City, Utah County, and Park City catering at! Photo by Mara Marian-Harwood of Events by LMG

March 6, 2013

Culinary Crafts Nominated for ACE Award | Wednesday Wisdom


Finalists Announced for the Oscars of Catering…  Culinary Crafts is a finalist in two International Catering competitions! Recently, Catersource Magazine announced 26 finalists for the 2013 Achievement in Catering Excellence (ACE) award, and Culinary Craft's is one of them! This prestigious award represents the top caterers in all aspects of event execution and recognizes nominees in four regions of the United States-- East, South, Midwest and West-- as well as International caterers. Culinary Craft's is in "west" region of course, which includes caterers from Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexio, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming. That's a lot of caterers! The finalists and winners are determined by past winners of the ACE award, who represent Catersource's commitment to being the top resource in the events industry for caterers by caterers. Finalists must demonstrate excellent business acumen, top presentation skills, a commitment to culinary innovation, sales and marketing expertise, and excellence in all areas of event execution. The winners will be announced at the CaterSource Tradeshow in Las Vegas in March.  We’ll keep you posted!  In the meantime, check out the fantastic events from 2012 that lead us to this prestigious honor!  We are SO, SO, SO excited! Check out more award-worthy catering at!

February 27, 2013

Black & White Wedding Inspiration | Wednesday Wisdom


As you all know, black and white is classic, chic, and striking.  This color combo has always been a wedding color palette that never really goes away - always there for the brides looking for the ultimate timeless feel.  While we have always had a handful of brides calling on this duo year after year, we are now seeing a BIG resurgence of black & white palettes in a huge way!  And not just for the classic, traditional bride either.  We are seeing it in edgy contemporary themes, Victorian vintage themes, whimsical graphic themes, and everything in between!  This palette is always a stunner and truly one of the most versatile pairings possible.  Our trend setters at Culinary Crafts saw this coming and were lucky enough to work with Riehl Events, Cake-A-Licious, Salt Lake/Park City Bride & Groom Magazine, Wildflower Linens, Distinctive Inscriptions, and Barrett Doran Photgraphy to create a dynamic and GORGEOUS sweet table for the magazine's 2012 issue.  So, armed with photos of that eye candy, I created this inspiration board with divine black and white details and a to-die-for Dior wedding gown to show you just how fun, different, and beautiful this palette can be! Happy planning everyone! Check out more Salt Lake, Park City, and Utah County catering at! Row 1: Dior Wedding Dress via Be Wedding Planner, Bouquet photo by Jen Huang Photography, Culinary Crafts macarons photo by Barrett Doran Photography | Row 2: Boutonnieres photo by Jen Huang Photography | Row 3: Shoes photo by Mademoiselle Fiona Wedding Photography, Invitation Suite design by Neither Snow | Row 3: Tablescape photo by Jen Huang Photography, Culinary Crafts sweets table photo by Barrett Doran Photography | Row 4: Culinary Crafts cake pop photo by Barrett Doran Photography, Plate menu photo by Kristen Spencer Photography

February 20, 2013

Chef’s Table Dinners | Wednesday Wisdom


One of my newest FAVORITE trends for the upcoming year are the Chef's Table dinners!  This experience is perfect for any event and really makes the meal part of the overall entertainment.  The chefs are right there, table side, discussing the food, showing techniques and plating, and serving the meal for the guests.  Guests are enthralled as they learned about everything from the importance of local products to how to extract your own vanilla. Whether you are looking to wine and dine your guests, or just looking for fabulous dinner in the most intimate of settings, this is by far my new favorite way to dine!  Check it out! We loved this super chic and lovely event, plus the food was AMAZING! Here Mary is letting the guests know about the meal they are about to watch Culinary Crafts's staff prepare in front of them! The staff plated and prepared each guests's plate, making sure they all looked FABULOUS! Ryan even torched the Bistecca for the entree in front of everyone which was a definite thrill.  The flame thrower is always a crowd favorite! The ever talented Ryan doubles up on torches to bake the green beans with a parmesan cheese garnish.  SO YUMMY! This event was held at our venue, The Tasting Room, in downtown Salt Lake City!  We loved the rustic chic look of the event! Guests were greeted with these rack of lamb appetizers, a sommelier who educated the guests on wine pairings, and Culinary Crafts's staff preparing the menu's offerings.  So fun! This event even featured Culinary Crafts's chefs leading a cooking demonstration on the proper way to grill this GORGEOUS Utah trout.  Yum!  I love being able to go and enjoy fantastic food and then go home and replicate the techniques in my own kitchen!  Well worth it, in my opinion. We love that these Chef's Table events are popping up in our future events and really think that they are a great way to serve our delicious food.  At Culinary Crafts, we consider ourselves lucky to have the creme de la creme of staff members who can be out on the forefront of an event and serve in style!  Happy cooking everyone! Check out our website at! Photos by Kelli Bramble, a Pepper Nix Photographer

February 13, 2013

Rustic Ranch Wedding Part 2 | Wednesday Wisdom


Today is Part 2 of this FABULOUS rustic ranch wedding - and its all about the details!  This wedding was chock full of so many pretty and fun details and they really left no piece untouched.  From the signage, to the flowers, to the setup, everything had a personal, extra-special touch which our friends at Scenemakers designed and carried out flawlessly!  Now, on to the pictures! This couple really wanted to make this event about creating a new family, so they chose to do away with the traditional guest seating of Bride or Groom's side and allow the guests to sit where ever they liked by posting the sign "Choose a Seat, Not a Side" with GORGEOUS hand calligraphy.  We also loved the lavender pouches that gave for their ceremony recessional toss.  So fun! One of the best ways to maintain a consistent design feel is when a couple uses their wedding monogram, logo, or personal design throughout the event.  The couple's craved heart logo was seen on the menus, invitations, custom wood signage, seating cards, and blanket favors - which was FABULOUS!  (And a special shout out to Ann Elizabeth Design for all of the FANTASTIC paper goods she created!  So beautiful!) This romantic and airy seating card setup was rustic and beautiful.  We loved Ann Elizabeth's seating card tags and how Scenemakers used the aspens to create the framework for the display! The flowers were such vibrant and bold palette but were balanced but the neutral and burlap tones throughout.  We also loved that every floral creation was its own design.  This made for a visually interesting event that was anything but boring! The couple chose to give all of their guests custom blankets with their wedding logo as a memorable and useable favor.  The twine tie and fabric tag were a great way to "wrap" the favors too! Red Cliff Ranch's barn created a cozy and intimate dining space, which is taken up a notch by the long wooden tables which create a real sense of family and conversation.  Love!  Plus, the couple's Mason jar wine glasses and the elegant lavender tied ribbon balanced the whimsical with the classic - perfect for this couple! Nikki and Mike are such a perfect couple and we were blown away by the gorgeousness of this event!  When Red Cliff Ranch, Scenemakers, Ann Elizabeth, Culinary Crafts join forces for a fabulous bride, magic is made!  This event was so much fun and we just LOVED all of the beautiful details that came together to make this wedding one of a kind - definitely not one to be forgotten any time soon!  Thank you so much to Nikki and Mike for letting us share in this extraordinary day!  Remember, we have one more post with the fantastic food from this event!  You definitely don't want to miss it! Check out more on Park City, Salt Lake City, and Utah County catering at! Photos by Logan Walker, A Pepper Nix Photographer

February 6, 2013

Featured in Utah Bride & Groom: A Love from Coast to Coast | Wednesday Wisdom


Today I am so EXCITED to share this amazing wedding with you that actually took place in Salt Lake City with receptions here, in San Francisco, and in Boston!  This coast to coast multiple day affair was a true jet-setting adventure and the Salt Lake portion was a fantastic celebration of love and family with FABULOUS modern details and a true spectacle of food offerings from Culinary Crafts!  Utah Bride & Groom Magazine loved it too and it was part of their Snap Shots in this newest issue!  Check it out! The GORGEOUS layout from Utah Bride & Groom magazine with pictures by the lovely Logan Walker, A Pepper Nix Photographer (and she took the images below too)! The happy couple chose to host their Salt Lake reception at the beautiful Main Library in downtown SLC which was perfect for the bride's modern and classic style! We loved the mix and mingle reception that allowed these families to get to know each other and celebrate!  These tasty and chic appetizers of Cucumber, Shrimp, and Wasabi Aioli and Fig and Goat Cheese skewers were as delicious as they were eye-catching! The couple made nods to their coast to coast roots and the letter writing that played a big part of their love affair with a fun alternative to a guest book by asking their guests to "mail" them letters of love and advice!  We also loved the doors that told their story of how they met, fell in love, and got engaged!  And aren't the florals GORGEOUS?  The talented team behind Scenemakers created these beauties and really took the event up a notch! The couple wanted to pull in regional food favorites from their hometowns with some local favorites too!  This allowed Culinary Crafts to create a variety of dishes to please even the pickiest of eaters!  YUM! The signage was another favorite detail of the day.  Not only did we love the variety of foods they chose, but they showed the offerings in style! The honeycomb is one of my favorite new ways to display our DELICIOUS deconstructed salads!  Modern, stylish, and functional.  Love it! The desserts were another decadent masterpiece collection.  They offered Carrot Cake, Lemon Poppyseed Cake, Chocolate Caramel Cake, Black Tie Cake, and Strawberry Chantilly Cake!  Each were artfully decorated by our talented staff and DELICIOUS to boot! What a wonderful celebration and we are so thankful to Utah Bride & Groom for including this wedding in their newest issue and to Channing and Spencer for asking us to be a part of this spectcular celebration!  Remember to pick up our STELLAR local bridal magazines - they are chocked full of the dreamiest weddings and best trends!  Not to mention a ton of eye candy!  Happy reading everyone! Check out more on Salt Lake, Park City, and Utah County catering at! Ceremony Site: Salt Lake Temple Catering: Culinary Crafts Reception Site: Salt Lake City Main Library Flowers: Scenemakers Photography: Logan Walker, A Pepper Nix Photographer Dress: Custom made by Penelope's Banners & Signage: Made by the Bride

27x winner Utah’s Best of State

24x Best of State Caterer

3x Best of the Best / Hospitality

1x Entrepreneur of the Year