Queens: A "food artisan" hub by Alan Krawitz

Sep 10, 2009

According to Louise Kramer, communications director for the National Association for the Specialty Food Trade, approximately 220 of the association’s 2,900 members are from New York City, with more than 25 located in Queens, including 10 in L.I.C.
   “With such a diverse population and so many great food merchants, Queens is definitely a place of great inspiration for food artisans and entrepreneurs,” Kramer said.
   Paramount Caviar, based in L.I.C., is one such example. A major caviar distributor in the U.S., Paramount sells to high-end restaurants, retailers and hotels across the nation, including the Waldorf Astoria, Le Bernardin, Wild Edibles and the Grand Central Market. Its caviar was awarded two gold medals for product consistency and quality by Chefs in America.
   Paramount was founded in 1991 by a husband-and-wife team and was initially run out of their Rego Park apartment.
   “I worked in the chocolate world and my now-husband Hossein was involved in the caviar business,” co-founder Amy Arrow recalls. “We actually met at a food trade show at the Javits Center in 1986. And the rest is history, as they say.”
   The company has expanded significantly since then, but, Arrow says, “There’s only so much caviar you can sell.”
   That’s why the company has been expanding its product lines to include more than just that delicacy. In addition to a wide variety of imported and domestic caviar, the company offers smoked salmon, foie gras, pate, chocolates and confections, as well as gifts and even serving utensils such as mother-of-pearl spoons and Italian pewter pots.
   Arrow says she regards other caviar and specialty foods companies as “friendly competitors.”
   “I’ve never been comfortable with the cut-throat aspect of some businesses,” she said. “I think there is room for everyone, and I’m confident in Paramount because we’ve always made quality, consistent pricing and service cornerstones of our business.”