Here at The Local Dish we’re always on the hunt for new food flavors and the stories about people on the front lines of re-creating what goes on the table in America.  So the TLD team put together a little tasting party recently, invited a few friends, and showcased some delicious artisan creations from around the country. Our featured local artisans, Laine Alexander and Jody Van Buskirk, co-owners of Salinity Salts, brought samples of their complete line of finishing salts (french grey sea salt blended with herbs, spices and other components) and provided some salty entertainment with a cooking demo. Here’s Part I of our interview with them. We learned they excel at spur of the moment interviews…and they really know how to finish each other’s sentences!

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  • TLD: Tell us how the “Salt Box” was born?
  • Laine:  When we started a few years ago, Jody and I were talking that we just need to get a trailer, get certified, and have it here, so she could be in and out,  still take care of the kids, and make it all work. It was pretty funny, that conversation was on a Monday, Tuesday…
  • Jody: We got pulled over, for picking up hitchhikers, just some kids who needed a ride to Medford.
  • Laine:  Pouring down rain, with our dogs
  • Jody: Pulled them in, got pulled over. We got pulled off the road.
  • Laine: Anyway, so, that was on Monday we had the conversation. Tuesday, I looked up two of those carnival trailers, like a Wells Cargo with drop-down windows and they’re just like boxes inside. We are looking at them with the ODA guy, like a kitchen inspector guy, and I’m like, “God, these just really aren’t inspiring, I can’t imagine being locked in here with just a light over my head, trying to be creative. That was Tuesday. Then Wednesday…we found our salt box. We went in there and it’s just beautiful, bright colors inside, it had a full-sized fridge, and everything we needed. We were like, “This is the one!” and we hauled it home Wednesday morning.
  • TLD: Are your mates involved in the business, or is it just the two of you?
  • Laine: Yeah, they are.
  • Jody: They’re keeping us afloat right now, which is amazing, but eventually we all want to converge in the business.
  • Laine: Yeah, Tyler, Jody’s husband, backs us up… markets, child care, you name it! Mine’s really great at making salt and labeling, and then, of course, we all come together on major decisions and make sure everyone’s involved. They basically just let us do the business.
  • Jody: They don’t have a choice.
  • Laine: No, they don’t, but we tell them what to do.
  • Jody: We share, we decide.
  • Laine: We’ve all been friends, the four of us, for over 15 years.
  • TLD: You don’t look a day over 15 years old.
  • Laine:  Thank you so much! This morning, I’m like, “Oh, my goodness, what is going on?”
  • TLD: The salt preserves you!
  • TLD: What is your personal favorite? If you could pick only one, what would yours be?
  • Jody:  I just had this conversation! I always say I have a favorite, but it’s just for the moment, black garlic is great, but Laine always says it’s like picking a favorite kid.
  • Laine:  I don’t have children, but I would assume that’s what it would be like. Some days are just like, “I’m really enthralled with you”, and other days, not so much!
  • TLD:  You’ve got it! You’re ready to have kids.
  • Jody:  She has mine. She’s my children’s godparent, too. We all live together, on the same farm, in the same house. Six people, one house.
  • Laine:  Three dogs.
  • Jody:  We can break all the rules, in the house.
  • Laine:  We work together, we’re friends, and we live together.
  • Laine:  Our tax lady has known us and our families for years, and knows our parents and everything. We sat down and told her what we were going to do, and she’s just like “You two, uh-uh-uh. You know you’re doing exactly what you’re not supposed to do!”

Up next: Salinity’s take on pairing salts as a finish to the dish!