Contacts: Sunny Wu, Caviar Emptor
(202) 483-9570 [email protected]


(July 7, 2003) Some of the nation's top restaurants are teaming up with the Caviar Emptor campaign beginning July 14 to celebrate Caviar Nouveau, great-tasting caviars from sturgeon, paddlefish and trout farmed in the United States as well as wild Alaska salmon. The promotion will highlight these delicious and eco-friendly caviars as a win-win situation for connoisseurs who are concerned about critically imperiled Caspian Sea sturgeon.

From Monday, July 14, to Sunday, July 20, chefs in restaurants across the nation will serve a daily special featuring these excellent new caviars. Participating restaurants include: rm and Eleven Madison Park in New York City, Water Grill in Los Angeles, Jardinière in San Francisco, Restaurant Nora in Washington, DC, Azul in Miami and more.

Within the next few months, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will be making a decision on whether to list beluga sturgeon -- whose numbers have plummeted by 90 percent in the past 20 years -- under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. If the fish is protected under the Act, all imports of beluga caviar would be banned.

Concerns about the overfishing and illegal trade that plagues Caspian caviars have prompted many American chefs to turn to high quality homegrown products. The chefs participating in Caviar Nouveau have taken beluga caviar off their menus and are leading the latest trend of the culinary world by exploring the fascinating diversity of farmed American caviars.

"By choosing new, sustainable caviars, chefs and connoisseurs are sending a powerful message that they will not contribute to the extinction of the ancient beluga sturgeon," said Vikki Spruill, president of SeaWeb, one of three conservation groups of the Caviar Emptor campaign. "Together, we urge the U.S. government to make the right decision by granting beluga sturgeon the protection of an endangered species listing."

Caviar Emptor launched in December 2000 as a partnership of SeaWeb, Natural Resources Defense Council and the Wildlife Conservation Society. In addition to petitioning the U.S. government to list beluga sturgeon as an endangered species, the campaign seeks a halt to international trade in beluga caviar and calls for greater international aid to protect and restore Caspian Sea sturgeon.

Overwhelming support for listing beluga sturgeon as an endangered species was submitted by nearly 200 renowned U.S. chefs and seafood purveyors when the Fish and Wildlife Service opened a public comment period last fall.

"There are many alternatives available now, why would anyone eat something that is so endangered?" asks Chef Rick Moonen, who no longer serves beluga caviar in his restaurant rm in New York City. "It is truly exciting to offer my customers the new trend of Caviar Nouveau, which is incredibly delicious. Consumers need to know that the farmed sturgeon and paddlefish caviars in the U.S. have great textures and flavor. A great alternative to beluga."

List of restaurants and chefs participating in Caviar Nouveau promotion.

For interviews with chefs or spokespeople, please contact Sunny Wu at 202-483-9570 or via [email protected].

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