Students at Deep Bay Marine Station

Culinary Strategies to Optimize Sturgeon Sales

The Sturgeon Challenge


This project between Omega Pacific, VIU Culinary Arts and CSI investigated the economic and culinary possibilities of white sturgeon, selling at a head-on dressed price of $15/lb. VIU Culinary students worked with 12 Omega Pacific sturgeon over a three-day period to butcher and prepare this delicate and distinctive meat, creating ten menu ideas and experimental recipes in the process. Sturgeon filets were the main component in most recipes, with stock from heads and fins added as ingredients — but even a sturgeon head and liver made their way into some highly original dishes.

Challenge participants concluded that while the quality of sturgeon is superior, netting a wholesale price of $15/lb for its meat is ambitious, especially given the amount of time required to butcher and process this unique fish. Overall, however, the project was regarded as a success in providing research and educational opportunities for VIU students, instructors and staff — and for directing future research, market and product development.


Client: Omega Pacific Hatcheries

A collaborative short-term project between Omega Pacific Hatcheries, VIU Culinary Arts, and the Centre for Seafood Innovation to help capture maximum value for Omega Pacific’s 2022 farmed sturgeon harvest. The company farms white sturgeon (Acipenser transmontanus) (the stock originated from VIU’s sturgeon program) in land-based ponds fed with crystal clear cold water. The primary purpose of this project was to provide recipes and ideas to help market sturgeon to chefs, restaurants and wholesalers through recipe development and menu ideas, while providing an experiential learning opportunity to VIU culinary students.

Twelve students guided by two of VIU’s culinary instructors learned about farmed sturgeon, from harvest to preparing a delicious sturgeon-based banquet for 50 consumers and chefs at a Let's Talk Seafood and Eat it Too (LTS) event.Not only did students learn how to butcher, break down, quantify and cook sturgeon components, they also learned how to communicate what they learned! CSI demonstrated to students how their results could be incorporated into a client research report and a Let’s Talk Seafood public education presentation.

The results of this project are impactful and set the stage for further research and market development. Twelve culinary students experienced rare learning opportunities. Few, if any, culinary students learn about sturgeon and how to present their work as applied research – one can postulate that these experiences give them a new appreciation for farmed seafood and broader career opportunities. As for consumers and chefs, pre and post surveys at the LTS banquet revealed 97% of participants’ perspectives had changed about farmed sturgeon after attending the event and 59% indicated that they were more likely to purchase sturgeon. The client, Omega Pacific, received considerable value from this project; new insights about processing and distribution, recipe ideas, chef and consumer feedback and new supply chain relationships. Recommended next steps include working with other sturgeon and land based fin-fish farmers on consumer education programs and to identify opportunities to extract value from “by-products”.

Thank you to the BCGEU Innovative Education Support Fund for contributing to student expenses for the LTS event.