Business cooks in Reno for luxury foods purveyor |

Business cooks in Reno for luxury foods purveyor

John Seelmeyer

Plenty of newly relocated business people in northern Nevada complain about the hassles they faced when they tried to operate in California.

And then there’s Laurel Pine.

Pine, the owner of Reno-based Mirepoix USA LLC, was flatly driven out of California when the Golden State in 2012 banned sales of the foie gras that accounted for at least 50 percent of her company’s sales.

But here’s the sweet part: Since the company relocated over the state line, Mirepoix has significantly widened its product offerings, hosted numerous tasting events that introduce new customers to its luxury foods and developed European tours that spotlight luxury foods and luxury experiences.

“I just feel good here,” says Pine.

The company’s core business remains Internet sales of hard-to-find luxury food items. Its catalog these days carries about 200 items — Iberico ham from Spain, caviar farmed in Uruguay, collections of French cheese — in addition to the foie gras it continues to sell across the nation.

Most of the suppliers to Mirepoix drop-ship directly to the company’s shoppers, and Pine and a couple of part-time workers handle the remaining shipments from the company’s Reno headquarters.

Customers are writing big checks for their shipments. An ounce of white truffles from Italy on the company’s Web site,, sells for $195; a 48-ounce package of Moroccan sausage is $60.

To win the battle against about 10 competitors — some of which are also wholesale suppliers to Mirepoix USA — Pine emphasizes both the breadth of the company’s product lines as well as its focus on quality foods.

To acquaint budding gourmands with the company’s culinary delights, Mirepoix USA schedules a handful of tasting dinners each year, drawing about three dozen dinners who pay $129 each to sample fois gras, fresh truffles, Russian caviar and fine wines.

Pine looks to widen that experience with epicurean tours — 10 days of fine dining and cooking classes for 14 people along the Dordogne River of Bourdeaux, for instance.

“I’m providing experiences that otherwise wouldn’t be available,” says Pine.

But all this is just a prelude to Pine’s ultimate goal: She has her sights set on becoming a celebrity expert on fine foods.

Televised appearances on platforms such as CNBC have begun setting the stage. Pine’s planned publication of a cookbook is a solid step.

Given her experience as a business consultant before she launched Mirepoix in Berkeley in 2004, Pine is building the ladder of her success carefully — a detailed procedures manual, carefully vetted policies for a company that today is still small.

“The foundation is to have all those things in place,” she says. “It’s one step at a time, just like any business.”