Salt is the most important ingredient and a ubiquitous component of any recipe, and as classic as it gets for seasoning food, salt enhances the flavor of any dish. It is one of the most common ingredients that are found in a kitchen and is readily available at any restaurant around the world. For most people, salt is just a substance in a shaker as a kind of ‘it is what it is’. Sel Magique, a brand of fine French Fleur de Sel Sea salt aims to help people by providing them with artisanal, handmade salt blends produced in a centuries-old tradition. To talk some facts about salt first, it is the mineral compound sodium chloride (NaCl), and is essential for the human body and all forms of life. It is one of the five basic taste sensations which include sweet, salty, sour, bitter, and umami.
All salt comes from seas and lakes, whether they are ancient oceans buried eons ago or the present-day water bodies. Salt can be found through industrial mining and by processing sedimentary deposits. Rock salt, table salt, kosher salt, and Himalayan pink salt can be found by processing sedimentary deposits and these types of salts are mostly found in China, the US, India, and Pakistan. The difference between these four is mostly their texture: rock salt is of a rough texture with large grains, kosher salt has medium-large uneven grains, and table salt is a fine, uniform grain and is usually the cheapest and contains the highest amount of sodium content.
Table salt also contains additives like iodine and anti-caking ingredients. Himalayan pink salt is available in mixed textures and is similar to table salt with just a slight hue of pink color, which is due to the trace of non-nutritive mineral deposits. Another way to produce salt is through the mechanical a sea water brine or evaporation of sea water. This technique is used to produce the Maldon® brand of salt, and most of what we eat and buy that is labeled as ‘sea salt’, which is generally preferred in cooking because of its flavor, which comes from a naturally occurring mineral content, and includes minerals like Magnesium, Potassium, Calcium and other trace minerals.
Sitting at the top of the salt food chain is Fleur de Sel or ‘flower of salt’. This is a type of sea salt that is formed by the sun evaporating sea water until it forms a floating ‘crust’ of salt crystals, which are collected by hand and contain the highest natural trace mineral content, with slightly moist crystals. It the most flavorful and prized, and also the most labor-intensive and expensive salt to produce. Fleur de Sel (French) or Flor de Sal (Spanish, Portuguese or Catalan) is produced all over the world including Brazil, Mexico, Thailand, Canada, Africa, and Europe. France is uniquely regarded for its Fleur de Sel production, specifically Île de Ré, Camargue, and especially Guérande, the most famous salt production in the country, if not the world.
So, why is salt production in Guérande so rare and expensive? A good metaphor for its production technique might be a candle vs. an LED lightbulb, with Guérande being the candle, and industrialized salt production being the LED lightbulb. Every aspect of Fleur de Sel de Guérande production is done by hand, taking months to produce on a protected site that dates to the 3rd Century. In a nutshell – Paludiers, or salt harvesters, channel Atlantic seawater through elaborate clay marshes called œillets to purify and evaporate, then collect only the topmost layer of the delicate salt crystals with a special rake. Each marsh can yield about 1 kilo (2.2 pounds) of Fleur de Sel per day – about 2% of the entire annual salt production from the AOC (appellation d’origine contrôlée) is Fleur de Sel.
The only mechanical part of the process is the truck which drives the salt to the packaging facility, it’s all done by hand, and is only harvested a few months per year in the summer when the sun and wind are just right. The result of all this hard work is a slightly moist very delicate flaky salt with an unrivaled flavor and many chefs consider it as the world’s finest salt. One company that is producing the best salt is Sel Magique, the brand founded by New York designer and entrepreneur Matt Murphy, who, along with his business partner Fréderic Morvan, founded a company that is reinventing and popularizing the Fleur de Sel salt blends. Before Sel Magique, there were few if any salt blends made using Fleur de Sel de Guérande as their base, and usually blends were made with plain sea salt or table salt. The brand’s first recipe, Classic Blend, is Fleur de Sel de Guérande blended with a proprietary dried Herbes de Provence mixture and aged into flavor like wine. The ageing process helps rehydrate the herbs and release the oils into the crystals, creating a very unique flavor that reacts to and enhances food, which is further enhanced with the salt’s high trace mineral content. The combination creates a subtle balance, making the salt easy to use for any recipe, and is the backbone of the company’s success and loyal following.
Sel Magique is headquartered in New York City and is the sister company of MMD, Mr. Murphy’s Design, a company which took him to France for work, where he discovered and fell in love with the salt. Mr. Matt Murphy was working between Paris and New York for Karl Lagerfeld designing leather goods. Over one weekend, Mr. Murphy was visiting friends in Brittany, about 6 hours by train in northwest France, when Mr. Morvan served a tomato with a sprinkle of Classic Blend and Mr. Murphy could not believe the incredible flavor. Now Mr.
Murphy travels with the salt blend in his suitcases to give and sell to friends. After realizing there was a larger market for this specialty gourmet product, Murphy and the founders of the brand soft-launched the Sel Magique in 2010. Today, Sel Magique includes a variety of products which include their famous Classic Blend the Spicy Blend, the Salt & Pepper Blend, the Black Truffle, and the Pure Fleur de which were released in the year 2013, 2015, 2019, and in 2022 respectively. The company achieved a milestone when it sold 500 jars of Classic Blend at Plaza Hotel’s Food Hall in 2011.
The Wall Street Journal was their first gifting customer in 2013 digital marketing in houston. Dean & Deluca, an American chain of upscale grocery stores, featured Sel Magique in their Holiday Catalog and Christina Hendricks appeared on the Rachel Ray Show and called out Sel Magique with her Tuscan kale salad recipe. In 2015, Sel Magique was prominently featured in Harrods London windows. Sel Magique is reinventing a centuries old kitchen staple with a strong iconic brand, exceptional product quality, and rich culture around its product, with an emphasis on high quality and healthy living. The customer base of Sel Magique look forward to watching it grow into a true heritage brand that customers can enjoy using throughout their lives.