SERVERS & UTENSILS
In November of 1983 Carolyn Collins turned a hobby into a profession. She and her daughter Rachel frequently used to go fishing! After seeing the beautiful roe of the Great Lakes Chinook Salmon, Carolyn was determined to figure out a way make caviar for herself. Alas, the process to turn raw fish roe into succulent fine caviar is a closely guarded secret in the industry. So, Carolyn had to figure it out for herself. And, knowing the Collins women’s determination, creativity and just plain moxie, she did! Her hand-made fresh Great Lakes Salmon and Trout caviars became an exclusive menu item for several well-respected Chicago area restaurants. She began making caviar in her Crystal Lake kitchen for the first year and followed the urging of a professional chef friend, to begin commercial production shortly thereafter. Collins Caviar remains the only Caviar House in North America that is exclusively a producer of American Freshwater Caviar, and not an importer. Now as then, hand-processed low-salt Salmon caviar is still made fresh every week. As the company grew, so did the need to offer a more complete line of American Caviars. Exquisite, low salt Hackleback Sturgeon, Paddlefish, and American Golden Whitefish caviars were added to the list.
By fall of 1985 the company was shipping to restaurants and retailers nationwide. A variety of products were added to the company’s offerings, and the company was moved into its first legitimate FDA inspected facility in Chicago, Illinois. That same year, the company became a real family business when Rachel Collins, Carolyn’s daughter, joined the company full-time to head operations as General Manager and Vice President. Always the innovators, having established themselves with traditional caviars, Carolyn and Rachel began designing a series of flavor infused and smoked caviars, many based on the sparkling Golden Whitefish caviar. Later on, Rachel continued in the tradition of creating delicious, innovative caviar recipes and products, and premiered Collins Caviar Creme Spread™.
When Rachel and Carolyn decided it was time to introduce a mail order program in 1992, all of our order fulfillment and customer service was done in-house. Today, the Collins line of caviars and related products are available to the home consumer via http://www.mackenzieltd.com/ along with an amazing selection of other gourmet treats.
So the Collins Caviar Company became a Chicago icon in the artisanal food producer’s community, and secured a larger scope of national distribution over the next 15 years. During this time, Rachel Collins took a professional hiatus to apprentice and work as a chef. She also started a catering company and personal chef service in the state of Michigan, which in turn became her new home. Rachel’s return to Collins Caviar after her hiatus was welcomed by Carolyn who was by then, ready to move into semi-retirement. In 2004, when it was time to move out of the west Chicago loop neighborhood that had been our headquarters, the next logical step was moving to an area closer to home for Rachel. So the search was on for the next Collins Caviar “Gobal Headquarters”! A classic mid-western town has welcomed us warmly here in Michigan City Indiana. Our new location outside of an urban center has enabled us to acquire a 6,000 square foot facility.
We built our processing kitchens in the Spring of 2005 and moved on June 6th 2005 to 113 York Street in the historic Elston Grove neighborhood of Michigan City, just 5 miles North of Interstate 94, a one-hour drive from downtown Chicago. Visit http://www.nationalregisterofhistoricplaces.com/ and http://www.emichigancity.com/ for more information on our new home.
The mother and daughter team are always mindful of their goal: to expand production to meet ever increasing demands, without losing the standard of excellence and personal commitment they have become famous for. They are also involved in conservation efforts and continuing education, and attend international sturgeon conferences. Visit http://www.wscs.info/ for more information. Collins Caviar remains closely allied to local Fish and Wildlife services, and continues to operate in the spirit of working together to maintain a balance with nature and commerce.
Today the Collins Caviar Company has achieved recognition from all parts of the culinary world. The name has become synonymous with quality. It has appeared by name on many menus, and a number of private labels. “Fresh”… “Clean”… “Smooth”… & “Positively Seductive!”…Just a few of the adjectives used by clients and the press to describe Collins products. International in scope, Collins Caviar Company and it’s founders are a continuing subject for newspaper and magazine features nationwide, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, Wine Spectator, Midwest Living, Glamour, Vogue, Traditional Home, Bon Appetite, Gourmet Magazine, The Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, and many trade publications in the wholesale food industry. Their story has been featured in airline magazines and industry publications such as Fancy Food Magazine, Nation’s Restaurant News, CHEF Magazine and The Quarterly Wine Review. The Collins women also have many television appearances under their belts, including several cooking shows and network exposure on CBS This Morning, A Current Affair, Wild Chicago, local news stations, and NBC’s Wine Country Living.