Chef Jason Goddard doesn’t take life with a grain of salt; he takes it by the jar full. The 31-year-old Executive Chef has been running the kitchen at Sea Salt of Naples since it opened in 2009. While the restaurant may be known for its wide variety of more than 130 different types and flavors of salts, it is also known for its unique atmosphere and dynamic staff members.
It is hard not to be dazzled by Sea Salt’s décor from the moment the front doors open. With an outdoor lounge, a full bar, multiple group dining areas and a private dining room separated by a wall-sized wine rack, there really is room for everyone. More than 500 wines are available for guests to choose from.
The kitchen is an open concept, so diners are able to watch as their food is meticulously prepared. Italian native and restaurant owner Chef Fabrizio Aielli has worked closely with Goddard to make custom menus for guests to make their experience at the restaurant as enjoyable as possible. Goddard estimates that the two of them have created between 10- to 20-thousand menu items in the past six years.
“Fabrizio has a vision that is unparalleled to anyone else,” Goddard said. “It’s been amazing what we’ve done. Sea Salt’s concept is very simple. It is fresh, good quality and simple. We let the flavors shine for what they are. Also, you have to be innovative and creative at the same time, always changing and always searching for the newer and next biggest thing.”
The chefs also release tasting menus at the Chef’s table each week, offering multi-course dinners ranging from nine to 21 courses. All of these items are made from whatever is already available in the kitchen.
The restaurant’s ingredients are sourced from very specific purveyors that have to meet with strict guidelines. Much of their fish is brought into the kitchen from local fisheries. After the price of gas skyrocketed in the past decade, it became common practice for fishing boats to conserve their fuel by remaining at sea for two to four days. To ensure the freshness of each catch, Goddard only employs ‘day boats’ in the Fort Myers area. What can’t be caught locally is then shipped directly from the source, a practice that Goddard says is costly but worth it.
“I’ve got planes coming in from everywhere,” Goddard said. “Right now I’ve got 85 of the best beef tenderloins in the world back there. They came from Miyazaki, Japan. I also have some from a local ranch about two hours from here, they’re raising some of the best wagyu beef here in Florida. I’ve got a guy that grows micro greens for us and he grows 80 different varieties of micros and herbs. And if you’re talking about fish then I’m getting it from everywhere. I’m getting my tuna from Hawaii and my salmon from New Zealand. I’m getting my turbots and my Dover soles from Spain.”
At the beginning of each meal, guests can start their meal with a selection of breads and a trio of imported salts with extra virgin olive oil. On par with their ingredients is the ambiance.
“We offer a level of class but at the same time you don’t have to be overdone,” Goddard said. “It isn’t over embellished. You don’t have to show up with a suit and tie, but it is somewhere that has a good vibe going on. The staff is pretty much on board with that. They like to custom tailor people’s experiences.”
In addition to offering guests a meal from his world class kitchen, Fabrizio recently created a way for customers to bring his expertise to their own kitchens. The recently published book, Sea Salt, is a 275-page book containing more than 75 original recipes and striking photographs. It also includes Fabrizio’s culinary journey which began in Venice, Italy, and includes personal notes and techniques.
Goddard describes the book as “edible art” and says that it provides guests with a picturesque idea of what Sea Salt can offer. Those interesting in purchasing a copy may do so during Sea Salt’s business hours, which are 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. for lunch and from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. To make reservations, order a signed copy of the book or to see what else Sea Salt has to offer, click here: http://seasaltnaples.com/Sea_Salt/.
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