Conversation with a Salty Lady

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Atlanta-based chef Suzi Sheffield of Beautiful Briny Sea makes the most delightful salt blends we have ever tasted. Her innovative mixes are like culinary poems, full of rich and unexpected ingredients that create a harmonious flavor together.

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Today she’s launching two new blends, Campfire and French Picnic, on Fab. We were lucky enough to track down this busy Southern belle and get the scoop on her process and inspiration.

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Can you please describe the new flavors you’re launching?

Campfire is a blend of smoked sea salt, sumac, a variety of ground chilies and cumin.  It’s smoky and earthy with residual heat. French Picnic is a Dijon mustard salt with hints of garlic, parsley, thyme, pink peppercorn, and lavender.  It’s tangy and bold with a clean herb finish.

Can you talk about your inspiration?

Beach or Mountains? I’m 100% mountains and spent my childhood summers in the Western North Carolina stretch of Appalachia. I have an engrained sense of the smells and tastes of that environment: the damp hemlock forest floor (cumin) blackberry picking (sumac) and gathering around a roaring fire (chili/smoked salt)

Mustard is one of my favorite ingredients.  Fresh herbs are a necessity in the kitchen and the idea of composed salads charcuterie, and a wedge of artisanal cheese in one meal is downright dreamy!  Someone once asked me to describe my cooking style and I replied without thinking “French Picnic”.

It combines my great respect for the discipline of a French kitchen with the playfulness and camaraderie of a picnic.

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How do you generally get your ideas for your flavors?

Sometimes I’ll start with a name and build from there and at other times I’ll sketch out a flavor profile and let the name slowly evolve.  All of the salts, however, are associated with a food memory.  I have a personal attachment to all the ingredients I use and can tell you a story about each one.  Perhaps where I first tasted it…a great meal that included it…

 

How did you source the ingredients?

I am lucky enough to be a part of three local farmer’s markets here in my hometown of Atlanta.  It’s inspiring and rewarding to incorporate my fellow vendors’ wares in my salt.  Beautiful shitake mushrooms, rosemary, lavender, garlic and parsley. The salt is a hand-harvested ocean Salt from Brazil. Other herbs and spices are sourced from purveyors and foragers that I have relationships with.

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What is your process when creating a new salt flavor?

Not having a process. I start with an idea, sketch it out in my head and try to create it in the studio.  French Picnic sat in a bowl on my table for four months…every day I was adding or taking away an ingredient. Magic Unicorn popped into my head one morning while lying in bed and an hour later I had the final recipe. 

 

How would you recommend using French Picnic and Campfire?

Campfire:  Brook Trout, Skillet potatoes, Grilled tofu, braised greens, buttered rice, tomato sandwiches.

French Picnic: Roasted chicken, vinaigrettes, deviled eggs, open faced sandwiches, poached salmon

In general, what’s your favorite recipe for a simple summer dish?

Field Peas, heirloom rice, okra and sliced tomatoes with a drop of herb vinaigrette. Served hot or cold.  I could eat it every day in July and August.

Notes

  1. grinning-peacefully reblogged this from fab and added:
    God damnit Fab, tag your food porn!
  2. fab posted this