Is There a Sturgeon in the House?

Keep Dallas Observer Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Dallas and help keep the future of Dallas Observer free.

Spent some time late last week speaking to N9NE Group founder Michael Morton (son of Arnie Morton, founder of Morton's The Steakhouse). We spoke of stainless steel, million-dollar kitchens and the Dallas efficacy of a N9NE Steakhouse in Victory Park, where cheap steak loots you 43 bucks and a cold-water lobster tail ravages $135 worth of billfold booty. We also talked about energy -- energy as in the circular champagne caviar bar in the center of the room intended to pump up dining buzz.

But ambiance buzz at $95 an ounce is not important now. What is important is caviar fraud. N9NE chef and partner Michael Kornick says that 60 percent of the Beluga and Osetra caviar that slips onto our polished mother of pearl caviar spoons for a sensuous lick is smuggled, i.e. not certified or inspected. A lot of incentive for that market black, since a fair-sized fish can be a $60,000 roe cash cow.

Not a good thing since the Caspian sturgeon, the mother of all expensive roe, is being fished out. That's why one of the tools deployed in sustainable caviar practices is the Cesarean section.

"The general practice is to land the fish, give it a Caesarian section, remove the roe, surgically prepare the fish and return it to the ocean so that it can produce more eggs next year," says Kornick. But N9NE doesn't go through such elaborations. It sources farm-raised caviar whereby Siberian Sturgeon spawn in captivity, the eggs are harvested and shipped to hatcheries in California until they reach a certain size, and then the fish are shipped again to Italy and planted in an ocean farm until they reach maturity. Then the roe, 70 percent smaller and a bit less rich, is harvested.

That's a lot of expensive travel for a fish. Yet they're not sewn up and thrown back to rut 'n roe again. Why?

Says Kornick: "It's expensive to give a Caesarian section to a fish." --Mark Stuertz

Keep the Dallas Observer Free... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Dallas with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the Observer community and help support independent local journalism in Dallas.


Join the Observer community and help support independent local journalism in Dallas.