Timothy Norwood and his wife envisioned becoming winemakers, but by then, they had made a home in Florida, and vineyards didn’t compute. So what else could he harvest locally that makes life better, kind of like wine can? Salt. He founded Sea Salt Florida five years ago and focuses on making the “best brand of salt the country has seen,” he says.
With a degree in engineering from Texas Tech University, Norwood moved to Bradenton from Texas in 1999 to become a yacht builder, but eventually quit to start what has become the family business. It took him two years of sketching out his harvesting method, branding and figuring out what it takes to make a product that dates back to the Egyptian pharaohs stand out from the rest. His method sounds as mysterious as the pyramids.
“I focus on the sun and the wind. I won't go deeper than that because it's proprietary,” he says. What we do know is that his salt is harvested from the waters around Anna Maria Island; Longboat, Siesta, Casey and Lido Keys; Boca Grande; and Venice Beach.
"The stuff that comes out of the ground is not really the way we’re supposed to be receiving it in our bodies,” says Norwood. His brand boasts 80 minerals, while salt from the Dead Sea has 84, he says.
The self-professed salt snob even adds a dash to his chocolate cake because cinnamon-infused salt makes desserts sing. His "Scarborough Flair," meanwhile, is flavored with parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme. Sound familiar? Then there’s "Drum Circle," made from 100 percent Siesta Key-harvested salt, a Cabernet-infused salt and more. As varied as Norwood’s infusions are, it’s all organically hand-harvested and packaged in Bradenton.
You can find Florida Sea Salt on the shelves at Geier’s Sausage Kitchen and Mazzone Olive Oil; it's also used at the Summer House and Boca and by chef Steve Phelps at Indigenous. You can buy it online or in person at the downtown Sarasota Farmers Market, where his unique zest stars as the natural exfoliant in body scrubs. He’s had a booth at the market almost from day one of his forays into flavor. “I don't care how big we get, we’ll still be there rain or shine," he says.
You can also find Florida Sea Salt in Norwood’s pocket; he carries it wherever he goes.