Best served chilled and directly from the jar, caviar is a decadent treat, and it’s made right here in the Show-Me State—Osage Beach, to be exact.

Founded in 1953, Osage Catfisheries Inc., a multispecies hatchery, is one of the Midwest’s oldest and largest that supplies more than thirty species of fish to customers all over the world. The caviar side of the business, L’Osage Caviar, is responsible for harvesting the high-grade treat. The company sells its product wholesale to other caviar houses in New York and California, which put it under their own labels.

Caviar was historically a rare and costly delicacy from wild sturgeon in the Caspian and Black Seas and served to Russian, Iranian, and Austrian royalty. L’Osage Caviar’s product is made from farm-raised paddlefish and served in higher-end establishments around the country.

People have been catching paddlefish in the Missouri and Mississippi Valleys for as many years as they’ve been settled, but the business began about fifty years ago when the late Jim Kahrs started raising paddlefish in the late ’70s and ’80s when wild sturgeon populations were declining in the Caspian Sea. Today, Jim’s sons, Steve and Pete Kahrs, run the business.

Jim started a paddlefish ranching program at the Lake of the Ozarks and began raising the fish in private lakes. “Being farm-raised means that our customers have an option over wild-caught caviar in the US and large amounts of caviar from China that is flooding the market now,” Steve says.

L’Osage Caviar looks for lakes that are fertile and have a good amount of bloom, or microscopic organisms within the water, for the paddlefish to feed upon.

“When we go to retrieve the fish from people who are involved in our ranching program, we use nets, and the fish are basically herded into them,” Steve says. “Then, the fish are transported to the processing facility. After that, the ovaries are removed from the females, and the process of making caviar begins.”

Show-Me-Caviar is L’Osage Caviar’s FDA-approved processing facility in Missouri. Steve says the taste of the caviar really depends on the water the paddlefish was produced in.

“A good caviar should have a creamy, buttery flavor to it and not be overwhelming with salt,” he says. “If there’s too much salt in the caviar when you taste it, it’s either a bad process or someone trying to cover up bad product.”

Steve says so far they’ve sold about 1,200 pounds of caviar to wholesale retailers this year.

“We’re just a family company whose dad had a vision, and that vision has come true,” Steve says. “So I wish he were here today to see that.”

A one-ounce jar of the high-grade black caviar typically costs about $35, and a four-ounce jar is $145 with the prices occasionally fluctuating as they have during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Call 573-348-1190, email LOsageCaviar@usmo.com, or visit KelleysKatch.com, a Tennessee company that distributes L’Osage Caviar, to order.