Farmers Market spotlight: Meet Steamboat Salt Co.
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Some great ideas start small. This great idea started as a small as a grain of salt.
The Pooles had just moved from Southern California to the Yampa Valley and were hosting a barbecue for friends and family. Chris Poole sprinkled some generic, store-bought garlic salt onto his beer can chicken and wished out loud, “Man, wouldn’t it be great if there was a spicy garlic salt?”
Poole’s friend looked over at him and said, “You should make some.”
Poole had been in the culinary industry for more than 20 years and currently works with several local caterers. He and his wife, Cameron, who’s the general manager of Colorado Mountain College’s Sodexo food services, began fiddling around with recipes and processes. They settled on a base of Kosher salt, fresh, hand-peeled garlic and a low-heat dehydration process. When the ingredients are blended, all the flavors marry, balanced and smooth.
They soon had a new staple on their kitchen table: El Jefe, garlic habanero salt. The next thing the Pooles knew, friends and family were asking for their own. The Pooles began giving out the specialty salt for holiday and birthday gifts. They were a hit.
The Pooles added flavors to their inventory: citrus ginger salt, bourbon sugar salt, sriracha spice salt and ghost pepper garlic salt, complete with a “hot hot hot” warning.
Each salt flavor contains four ingredients or fewer.
“The fewer ingredients, the better,” Poole said.
Top seller: El Jefe, garlic habanero salt, the salt that started Steamboat Salt Co.
Personal favorite: “El Jefe, definitely. It’s a staple on our dinner table,” Chris Poole said.
What’s new at the stand: A lavender honey salt will be available soon.
Last summer, Steamboat Salt Co. brought its salts to a Main Street Steamboat Farmers Market booth for a test run. This summer, they’ll be keepin’ it salty every Saturday throughout the season.
While Chris and Cameron are the chefs and adult decision-makers, their two young children are a big part of the operation, too. They’re assigned different jobs for the stand every Saturday.
“It’s just the four of us, doing it all ourselves,” Poole said.
The two littlest Pooles are also fans of the products.
“They’re our No. 1 taste testers. Our daughter loves the spicy salts, and our son will give us tips on what should be sweeter,” Poole said. “They’ve been a big help and a driving force.”
Julia Ben-Asher is a contributing writer for Steamboat Pilot & Today.
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