Petra Bergstein-Higby
Petra Bergstein-Higby
Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer
The Caviar Co.
Petra Bergstein-Higby is the CEO and co-founder of The Caviar Co. — a San Francisco-based purveyor of fine caviar and roe sourced from around the world with sustainability and integrity. When she and her sister Saskia first conceptualized the business in 2015, their goal was to de-mystify the world of caviar and make it more approachable and attainable, encouraging everyone to enjoy their favorite delicacy. According to Petra, “There’s a caviar for every day of the week, from Hackleback on a Monday afternoon to Golden Osetra on a Saturday night.” She is deeply passionate about education, particularly in an industry often shrouded by myths, striving for complete transparency to the consumer in sourcing and packaging.

Originally from Lubbock, Texas, Petra attended Texas Tech University where she majored in Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences. Upon graduation, she spent a restorative summer by the Pacific Ocean with her aunt in Carmel, California; she enjoyed her time there so much, that she convinced Saskia to move to San Francisco with her. Unemployed and without a place to live, the sisters took a leap of faith with their Bernese mountain dogs by their side and took the City by the Bay by storm.

Their daring story echoes that of their father, who immigrated to the U.S. from Holland in the ’80s. “My dad has always been my biggest influence; he accomplished the American Dream through extremely hard work, early mornings, and solid ethics. I always knew that I wanted to make him proud, and show him how much I appreciated his dedication by achieving success on my own, and not living off of his.”

Sure enough, the sisters found success on their own terms; Petra soon settled into a job with a caviar company located in the Bay Area, while Saskia began working in wealth management. Next, Petra took on a job working for a caviar farm in Sacramento — that experience of working for a caviar farm forever changed the course of Petra’s life. She dove in headfirst, soaking up all the caviar knowledge she could from spawning and processing to packaging, marketing, and sales.

In 2015, the sisters took their respective skills and joined forces, opening The Caviar Co. in their San Francisco apartment with one, oversized commercial refrigerator. Originally, the business only provided caviar wholesale to local restaurants and chefs. Today, The Caviar Co. offers caviar and roe direct to consumers nationwide, in addition to a thriving wholesale department that provides their high-quality products to neighborhood and Michelin-starred restaurants across the country. Now, with a retail location on Union Street in San Francisco and a caviar/champagne tasting room in downtown Tiburon, the sky is the limit for Petra’s caviar dreams.

Petra oversees the strategic direction of The Caviar Co. and is dedicated to conducting business with absolute transparency, exceptional care for the planet, and undeniable reliability. Her belief in, and understanding of, the power of curating the finest sustainable caviar available from around the world, helps take this delicacy from an almost mythical food of the wealthy to a realistic indulgence that anyone with an interest should be able to enjoy and savor.

She loves tasting different kinds of caviars, teasing out subtle textural and flavor variations in order to select the very best from around the globe — consistency is always paramount. When asked to choose a favorite, the decision is clearly difficult, but Petra’s top three caviars for a tasting would be Osetra, Royal California White Sturgeon, and Hackleback. She says, “Side-by-side tastings are the best way to familiarize yourself with caviar, especially if you’ve never had it before. The contrasts in flavors and textures can be so eye-opening and demonstrate the importance of truly knowing where your caviar comes from. For example, Hackleback, which is native to the Tennessee river, will have a much earthier taste compared to a Royal White Sturgeon, which is native to California and known for its nutty and creamy flavor.”

Those who are not familiar with caviar have likely experienced roe before, such as tobiko, which is often used as a topping on sushi — those tiny reddish-orange pearls that provide a crunchiness and salinity. While both caviar and roe are fish eggs, caviar must come from a sturgeon fish and then be salted and cured. Petra says, “The difference can be compared to the labeling of sparkling wine. Just as Champagne needs to come from the Champagne region of France, it is the same with caviar. In order to be considered caviar, it needs to come from a sturgeon species of fish as opposed to a different species. All fish eggs are roe, but not all roe is caviar.”

Despite describing herself as “shy and most comfortable staying behind the scenes,” Petra is an

active member in the local community. She’s on the San Francisco Yacht Club Auxiliary Board of Directors and was a St. Francis Yacht Club Dining Committee Member, additionally she is also a member of the Diekemper Family Foundation. Her recent honors include the Outstanding Foundation Award given by the Lubbock Association of Professional Fundraisers. Her dedication to philanthropy is evident in the list of nonprofits she supports, including the Reed Schools Foundation, Operation Smile, San Francisco Symphony, Hair to Stay, and the South Plains Foods Bank.

In addition to these accomplishments, Petra and her husband Alex are the proud parents to a 3-year-old daughter and a nine-month-old son. She takes great pride in leading a woman-owned company in such a competitive, male-dominated industry, but nothing comes close to the joy of being a mother. From back-to-back Zoom meetings straight to soccer practice and ballet class, Petra handles it all with grace, but of course, this balancing act is not without its challenges. Despite the sometimes chaotic nature of her schedule, Petra can’t imagine her life without both her children and her business.

From managing retail operations to fostering relationships with restaurants to elaborate off-site events, there is truly never a dull moment at The Caviar Co. Despite the ongoing challenges of operating a small business in San Francisco, Petra, and her team are seemingly unstoppable, quickly adapting to anything thrown their way. For example, in the midst of the pandemic, they developed virtual caviar tastings led by Petra to help support their restaurant partners, donating 25% of the proceeds to help fund healthcare and other resources for those struggling in the industry.

As she looks forward to 2023, it only illuminates just how far both Petra and The Caviar Co. have come. From providing an ultra-luxurious caviar bar for Paris Hilton’s wedding to collaborating with fine jewelry designer Harwell Godfrey, the past year has been studded with career achievements for Petra, saying “It’s beyond exciting to see the company exceed expectations and continue to level up year after year. I’m so grateful for the opportunity to surround myself and partner with like-minded businesswomen. We elevate each other and help shift the dynamics of the status quo in a way that will, hopefully, benefit everyone. It’s a dream come true.” When asked what’s next for The Caviar Co., Petra is coy with the details, but says, “You’re going to want to keep your eyes on us, we’re always up to something.”