Sel Magique
Food & Drink — Eat

Sel Magique


Mood of Living  /  Sep 8, 2015

Sel Magique creates a mealtime experience by adding effortless elegance that elevates everyday dishes into gourmet meals.

Sel Magique, a unique company founded by Matt Murphy in 2010, blends the finest fleur de sel salt from France with hand-harvested French herbs— namely, lavender, thyme, savory, and marjoram. The company produces its salt in Guérande, France and handles distribution locally in New York. An essential element of our bodies and a crucial component of our diets, salt is an often forgotten about mineral that is critical to our daily lives. Salt-making and the salt trade has been around for thousands of years, during which it helped to establish human civilization. Salt today is almost universally accessible, with iodization bring the price of most salt down. However, there are gourmet salts that are distinguished by their harvesting methods and flavor profiles.

Sel Magique infuses herb essences into their batch-blended salt crystals, thus developing the distinctive aroma and flavor. The combination creates a delicate balance that leaves a bold impression, making the salt easy to use for any recipe. The backbone of Sel Magique’s salt blend lies in their fleur de sel which originates from Guérande, France. A rare salt, fleur de sel is hand-harvested by paludiers (local artisans) on ancient sites that speak to the storied history of salt. Sel Magique creates a mealtime experience by adding effortless elegance that elevates everyday dishes into gourmet meals.

Q&A with Matt Murphy

Matt Murphy

Matt Murphy Founder of Sel Magique

Mood of Living: Mission statement:

Matt Murphy: Sel Magique elevates good food to great food with the world’s finest salt blends.

MoL: Brief history of company:

MM: The company started as a passion project, with me bringing the salt back from France in my suitcase because I loved it so much.  First I used the blends for myself, then I shared them with friends. After awhile I started packaging it, and more and more people fell in love with the salt and then with the Sel Magique name. People would call and say, “I need more Magique!”  Over time, we worked out the logistics and finessed the branding.  Today it’s still very much a passion project, just more focused.  It started with and will always be about the love of great food.

MoL: What made you interested in the salt business?

MM: While I was on a working vacation in Brittany, my friend and now business partner introduced me to the local tradition of seasoning food with lightly herbed fleur de sel. The moment I tasted it, I knew I wanted to bring it to the States – it was amazing. It elevated absolutely everything we ate – it was literally ‘gourmet in a dash.’

MoL: What makes Sel Magique unique?

MM: Sel Magique is a blend, and it works with virtually anything. What makes it even more special is the very considered balance of seemingly simple, very high quality ingredients in the right combination and then how those are hand-blended and aged.  The recipe and process took literally years to perfect.  As we’ve grown into chocolate, for example, it’s still about the blend … how the Magique blend is used in the chocolate itself, what the proportion of the blend to the chocolate is, and how it’s combined and cooled.  That all affects the flavor.  We went through nearly 50 chocolate recipes to get the flavor just right.

MoL: What is the story behind the idea of the company?

MM: In a way the company invented itself.  We, as a group of friends, would joke “pass the magic salt!” and that became “Sel Magique.”  After seeing people’s love of the product and brand, the rest of the opportunity pieced itself together and we put together a business and marketing plan.

MoL: What are some of the obstacles faced on a daily basis?

MM: The biggest hurdle right now is keeping up with growth while charting and executing a plan for the future.

MoL: Where and how is the salt mined and harvested? Please describe the process in detail:

MM: Our fleur de sel is harvested in Guérande, France by a local network of co-ops. This rare salt is hand-harvested in an ancient tradition that dates from the Third Century and is only harvested in limited amounts. It’s collected by “paludiers,” or local artisans, who have perfected the process of their work over generations. Atlantic sea water is channeled through an elaborate network of purifying, clay-lined salt ‘pans’ and, in time, a natural crust forms. These mineral-rich, top-layer salt crystals are collected and batch-blended with our hand-harvested organic herbs. The mix is then sealed and given time to age, so that the herb essences are infused into the salt crystals. This process allows for the flavor and aroma of each blend to develop.

  • Rose Red Granite Coast, Brittany, France

    Rose Red Granite Coast, Brittany, France

  • Guerande Castle

    Guerande Castle

  • Brittany, France

    Brittany, France

  • Mont Saint Michele

    Mont Saint Michele

MoL: How sustainable is salt mining, and how is Sel Magique contributing to its sustainable practices?

MM: Sel Magique is harvested from the sea, not mined, and is 100% sustainable. We donate to Oceana and do what we can at this stage of our growth to minimize waste and to build production efficiencies.  In terms of packaging and shipping, we are constantly finding ways to minimize our footprint and to use items that are recyclable. Sel Magique is packaged in pressed-glass jars, which are fully recyclable. They’re heavier, but feel better and are refillable. When we do use plastic, it’s minimal and often reusable.

MoL: What makes your salt different from other salts?

MM: Since it is a blend, it combines the highest-quality, mineral-rich fleur de sel and our specific herbes de Provence recipe.  The flavor notes are designed to enhance a wide variety of foods.

Lavender field, Provence, France
Lavender field, Provence, France
Herbes de Provence
Herbes de Provence
MoL: How does Sel Magique’s salt enhance the flavors of both sweet and savory recipes?

MM: Sel Magique’s flavor and aroma are really amazing on their own, but the real magic is how the blends act as natural flavor-enhancers. The Classic Blend’s herb mix paired with the mineral-rich salt really, really pumps food flavors. Proteins and fats become more umami & richer; vegetables are that much more earthen and savory.  When paired with the sweetness of the chocolate, the salt becomes the yin to the sugar’s yang, and the herbs – especially the thyme – become a little more pronounced as they swirl with the nuttiness of the cacao.

MoL: What experience do you want each person who tastes and uses your salt to have?

MM: I want people to fall in love with what they’ve made using Magique.

MoL: What is the future vision for the company?

MM: We want to help make the world a better, more delicious, and more beautiful place.  I say that with sincerity, as I believe we actually can. Salt is in many things, and we believe there are many opportunities to enhance a wide range of foods and food products.

MoL: What imprints on the world do you want this company to leave and why?

MM: We want to shepherd the company as a positive force, respecting and helping to protect it’s source, the ocean, as well as to promote sustainable, clean, non-GMO, and all-natural food.  We also believe that good health and eating practices are essential – so as much as we can, we want to help educate people to the very real benefits of a healthy lifestyle.

MoL: What is the best advice you’ve ever received and from whom?

MM: “Everything is a people business,” from my uncle.

MoL: What is something you know now that you wish you knew before?

MM: Dreams glow brighter when you share the value of the vision.

MoL: What advice can you give anyone interested in starting his or her own business?

MM: You need to love what you do, because there are good days and there are not-so-good days.  What’s important is to keep the plot and to do your best.

MoL: Any favorite recipes using your salt blends that you would like to share?

MM: I grew up on an avocado ranch in Southern California, so I’m partial to Mexican food. My guacamole recipe:

Photography courtesy of Sel Magique

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