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The New Business of Luxury Food Infusions

By Lauren deLisa Coleman

caviarNever before has America seen the amount of wealth that we now demonstrate. In fact, according to the market research and consulting firm Spectrem Group, there are now 10.1 million households in the U.S. with $1 million or more in investable assets. That’s up from 9.6 million in 2013. And many in this demographic are interested in new experiences, new tastes, and revivals of luxury staples. Caviar and infusions around it are the new business area to watch.

Indeed, according to caviaremptor.org, from 1989 to 1997, the U.S. imported an average of 59 metric tons of caviar per year at an annual average value of $6.6 million, and ranked third in overall caviar imports. “But now the caviar market has completely changed,”managing director of Petrossian, Alexandre Petrossian, who is the grandson of one of the company’s co-founders recently said. “It’s really
exploded.” Growth is abundant and competition abounds. In, of all places, the Missouri Ozarks last year one center produced and sold approximately 15,000 pounds of paddlefish caviar. A number like that can bring in up to $2 million annually. Even this indicator alone demonstrates that the luxury food arena is a quickly growing phenomenon that will only get bigger.

And many, such as African-American chef JR Robinson, are positioned to cash in on market needs. He is at the helm of and is a partner in a brand new restaurant and lounge named Odessa that is situation right in the heart of Washington, DC–the power epicenter of tech, politics, and business.  “Most people don’t
even really know all the intricacies about caviar,” Robinson explains, “but I’m about to offer a menu centered around this – and other luxury food items– but make it totally different. Get ready for pairing of a number of delicacies with soul-food inspired, Asian-fusion blends.

Luxury today needs to pop and offer something completely new and different so that you’re mouth doesn’t get bored.” One of Robinson’s stand-outs is a red vinegar concept base, typically used for oysters and caviar, but elaborated via a special Jamaican vinegar based sauce typically used for fish.

Seems like Robinson’s drive and intuitive connection just may be right on the money all the way around. According to Baume+Whiteman, one of the largest food and consulting firms in the world, luxury is fast-returning to in food, and redefining trends in the hotel and restaurant business. Post-recession dining is seems to be going opulence — high-priced tasting menus, exotic custom spices, and much, much more. It should also be noted that millennials spent upwards of $90 billion on food service in the past year, alone, according to Food Trends Index. The intersection of these two lines could be very, very powerful. Only the savvy and alert,will be able to capture market share, however.

But is the neo-deal maker up for moving from Skype videos and Google hang outs to booking luxury lunches? “Personally most of my work leading up to deals is via video chat but the deals get inked in person,” reasons Garrett Fennelly Executive Producer for Field Day You Tube.  “It’s almost impossible to know who you are dealing with unless you break bread at least once.”

Robinson echoes such thought.  He says that food plays a big part in business because it brings people together and often times serves as the ice-breaker.  And it seems to be even better when the stage is set within a neo-luxury restaurant.  Broad thinking, new concepts and the money and talent need to support them hardly fit inside your average chop house or worse yet, a random chain restaurant. “When I think food, I think family.  So eating together already implies a certain type of connection,” explains Robinson. “But really, I see that people in these restaurants are watching what kind of decisions a prospect makes; if he/she is making the right choices.  And at the luxury level, which is really for those either at or aspiring to be at the top of their game, there should really be no mistakes, at almost any level. You can tell, pretty much, right away.”

Robinson should know.  As a winner of the reality competition series “Hell’s Kitchen” and one who has cooked for such notables as recording artist Wale and Academy-Award winning actor Jamie Foxx, he knows about the dealing with a high-stakes level.

Such drive will further develop this hot new area of food industry as well as incite competition.  Investors and patrons of the best of these choices will win in the market.

About the Author

New York Trend is a weekly news publication that focuses on issues and lifestyles of the African & Caribbean American communities throughout the New York metropolitan area and Nassau and Suffolk Counties of Long Island. It is a respected and well recognized news publication that has been in existence since 1989. Owner, Publisher and Executive Director, Dr. Teresa Taylor Williams has been at the helm of this award-winning publication since its inception. New York Trend continues to be the only black woman-owned, metropolitan newspaper in New York and Long island. New York Trend is the largest black-owned newspaper throughout Nassau and Suffolk counties.

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