Peter Burt works at the famed Raymonds Restaurant in St. John’s, dealing with the restaurant’s suppliers around the island and ensuring the table-bound food is up to snuff for the restaurant’s reputation.
He’s also one of its suppliers.
On the two days a week Raymonds is closed, Peter goes into the building to make sea salt for his one-man show, The Newfoundland Salt Company. He was inspired to start the company simply because it’s ridiculous for an island surrounded by salt water to import salt.
Filmmaker Rosemary House recently released an amazing, interactive video anthology The Hungry Month of March, that features people like Peter who demonstrate that how our new boom in food culture is ” steeped in the tradition of sustainability and self-sufficiency.”
In House’s video on Peter, he rightfully says, “We import everything, and we shouldn’t. We have everything here. There’s more potential here than anywhere to do things, because it’s untapped.”
He’s not wrong. In the food business, plenty of locals are tapping into untapped sources and foraging for, or producing products to meet the local food industry’s demand for fresh, quality, local products. His product certainly meets those criteria; Foodpages.ca call his product “light, flaky, and full of flavour.”
Newfoundland Salt Company’s product is first rate because Peter only bottles and sells “Fleur de Sel.” To make his product, he filters the salt water, and steam boils it in a succession of pots for days, until the water can no longer hold the salt. The salt then air dried for days.
During the cook, translucent crystals of salt form at the surface, known as “Fleur de Sel,” and eventually the bottom of the pot is filled with salt too, as the water boils off, but the Fleur de Sel is where it’s at for quality salt, and that’s what Peter primarily sells. Have a taste of his product, then a taste of standard table salt to be converted.
He fetches his water from Logy Bay, thanks to a partnership with MUN (they pump huge amounts of water from Logy Bay for oceanographic research, and Peter only needs 300 litres at a time).
His product comes from a process he mastered by mistake. One day his alarm didn’t go off, he slept through the cook, and discovered a little extra time makes for larger, better quality crystals. It took two years of experimenting, a year of perfecting it, and now he’s got clients for it as far flung as LA, Toronto, and New York, despite his limited supply.
You can also find bottles of it in select vendors around the island, like Rocket Bakery, Grates Cove Studios, and the St. John’s Farmer’s Market.
The company will be expanding the summer, by launching a new operation in Bonavista, out of 45 Church Street. They’ll be producing sea salt made with water from Trinity Bay area, including a finer sea salt that he can export year round.
Newfoundland Salt Company already has some ties in Bonavista — craft soap shop East Coast Glow use their salt in its exfoliating “Newfoundland Sea Salt Body Scrub with Wild River Mint and Shaved Iceberg Water Soap.”