In the world of caviar, one name that’s been able to gain international traction is Petrossian. The family-run company started in Paris in the ’20s and now has outposts in New York, West Hollywood, Las Vegas and São Paulo. The family sources premium sturgeon roe like Beluga and Sevruga, and also showcases the prized ingredient in composed dishes. Armen Petrossian, the son/nephew of original founders Melkoum and Mouchegh Petrossian currently leads his family’s company, sourcing from farms that exhibit best practices to deliver roe with a spectrum of colors, flavors and textures. On March 9, we met at Petrossian’s West Hollywood cafe and boutique, and he shared caviar insights.
Was it given that you’d work with caviar for a living, or did you consider other careers?
Born in Caviar, having passed all my childhood around the caviar business, having helped my father in his business, and having my parents or grand parents worked both side of the caviar industry, I felt I was belonging to the sturgeon world more than anyone else. But also it’s not only a job, it’s a passion. You cannot be involved as I am in caviar without passion.
What’s your very first caviar memory?
I was told that I had my first caviar drop at 6 month, but when possible I was also always in the shop listening to the fabulous stories of the caviar specialist in the shop, trained by my father, that was giving me all the caviars to taste and asked me my feelings about them. In the mean time he we was describing his experiences as one of the aide-de-camp of his royal highness the Tzar Nicolas II.
What are some misconceptions that people have about caviar?
The caviar is a complex science and a lot of people do not apprehend the difficulties in presenting them a high end caviar. The roe coming out of the fish is prepared and salted in original tins that are for us what a barrel is for the wine, a raw material. Then the process of selecting, aging, evaluating the roes needs the help of the senses, touch, nose, palate, eyes and the memory of the taste. No one sturgeon is like another and his roe also.
Also a number of people do not know the diversity of sturgeons and all the characteristics of each species. Caviar is diverse, in taste, color, density, and appearance.
As a good grape juice does not allow you to create a Chateau Petrus, as a good leather skin doesn’t make a Hermes bag, sturgeon roe doesn’t make a Petrossian caviar.
When is it a good idea to include caviar and cooking, and when should people eat it on its own?
Caviar is a fabulous product and to have the eggs directly in your mouth on your tongue and to press it gently on the palate, having this incredible experience of the sensuality of the caviar, gets you into another world of pleasure, the best is to share with the one you love or with dear friends. No need for anything, just a tin, a mother of pearl spoon and time for savoring. Renew each spoon by having a drop of champagne or vodka between spoonfuls.
You can also use the caviar as a sublime touch for a dish, a fish, eggs, pasta, tartars, and as much as your imagination can provide. One secret… never cook the caviar, use it at the end… at the time of serving. Temperature of the dish should be under 50° celsius.
What are the biggest challenges about making caviar approachable?
We invented many new ways to enjoy caviar from the smallest 12g egg/xiting for every day consumption, to the caviar cubes for cocktails, to the latest … caviar powder to be used as a complement on any dish to enhance the taste of your creations. These ideas created by us are meant to ensure a more approachable experience and to give the taste of caviar to a larger audience.
What’s your favorite way to enjoy caviar?
At anytime of the day or the night a dose of caviar gets your mood at the highest. My favorite late night or early morning, times when your hours are still yours, with only a spoon and caviar
Is there ever such a thing as too much caviar?
It happened I refused to deliver a customer who wanted to serve a kilo by person, and I explained to him that this was a mistake for the taste, even if he could afford it, he started to be furious but as I continued to resist, he understood that my advice was not money oriented, but to get him in a better position toward his guests. For each person you can start from 20g to a maximum of 150g, after 250g each it starts to be very inelegant.