By Kat Tancock
“I essentially boil water for a living,” says chef Andrew Shepherd of his salt-producing venture Vancouver Island Salt Co. in rural southern Vancouver Island.
When Shepherd originally came up with the idea, he says, “My friend said I couldn’t do it. He came over and we stayed up all night boiling sea water. In the morning we had a pile of salt. I gave some away and everyone freaked out.”
Why bother, you might ask? Artisanal sea salts, says Shepherd, retain flavours from the bays the water is harvested from, so that each has a unique taste. His salt has a “big, clean flavour” and, he says, can be used in smaller quantities than other salts for the same amount of taste. As for flavours, Shepherd cold-smokes with maple, cherry and other woods, and has been experimenting with infused salts such as balsamic, roasted garlic, mustard and banana pepper.
Local chefs are supporting the venture: Shepherd cites the Harbour House Hotel on Salt Spring Island and the Whole Beast in Victoria as clients, and says that Raincity Grill in Vancouver “actually puts my salt out on the tables and lets the guests know where it’s sourced from”.