Story by: Sarah Murphy Robertson
Nothing is as central and sacred to this area as the stunning gulf waters surrounding us. Its vibrant energy and unparalleled magnificence lures visitors here in droves and easily hooks permanent local residents. For that reason, the sea salt harvested by Gulf Coast Saltworks directly from these waters is truly a unique local gem. These flavorful finishing salts feature one of our natural resources in a truly reverent and delicious way.
Longtime local and graduate of Bay High School, creator and owner Chef Paul Ashman has enjoyed a Culinary Arts career for more than twenty years. In 2006 he returned to his alma mater, Gulf Coast Community College as an instructor and realized his true passion was teaching. As Gulf Coast Saltworks has grown, Chef Paul has tested the versatility of his salts; utilizing them with his pastry class students in recipes using dark chocolate and caramel. Sounds like nirvana doesn’t it? A vanilla dessert salt is in development and will be named “For Pete’s Sake” honoring Paul’s late brother, Peter.
Currently offered in four flavors – Original White, Pecan Smoked, Ghost Pepper, and Lime, the possibilities for using these salts is endless. Chef Paul encourages trying them in different capacities as food’s flavor profiles are deepened and enhanced when his salts are added to dishes. Home cooks can widen their expertise while using the most familiar of all seasonings, salt, in a new way.
The year ahead is an exciting one for Chef Paul and his wife, Judy. By working out of a brand new commercial kitchen space, their customer base is primed and ready to grow. They also plan to expand retailer partnerships beyond Panama City Beach, moving westward along 30A. Several new vendors are slated to carry their salts and will be revealed in the months to come. You can find Gulf Coast Saltworks flavors at Rosemary Beach and WaterColor’s farmers markets as well as in desserts created at g. Foley’s by Chef Chris Infinger.