The case of the disappearing salt shaker

Something is missing from more and more restaurants in the United States, and it's not politicians. The trend has nothing to do with politics, and everything to do with confidence. Across the country, chefs are removing salt and pepper shakers from their tables. This practice is occurring across the spectrum of restaurants, from fine dining to more casual eateries.

kosher salt

While the nation's top restaurants long ago removed the shakers, until the last few years you could usually find salt and pepper at every table in most other establishments. The reasons vary - some chefs feel that the food they serve is seasoned to perfection, while others are more focused on the table setting, preferring a cleaner look. 

Steve Cook, who along with chef Michael Solomonov, co-owns Zahav and other restaurants, said not offering salt has more to do with providing "flawless hospitality" than anything else. "When that food leaves the kitchen, it's to be ready to eat. The guest shouldn't have to do anything," he said. "We're not doing our job if the food isn't coming out seasoned just right."

The amount of salt needed for optimal results can be difficult to pinpoint. Since taste is subjective, one person's 'too salty' is another diner's 'just right'. Steve Cook says "When we were naming our cookbook, we joked about calling it  Zahav: Loud, Dark and Salty," he said. "Those are the complaints we get. It would probably be more useful to some of our guests if we put salt remover on the table."   

1 Comment

  • manycookbooks  on  6/29/2018 at 2:15 PM

    On the one hand, we all eat way too much salt. It's ever-present in processed foods and even sweet goods have a good dose of it. I have always been a judicious cook, when it comes to adding salt, but even more so after my spouse had life-threatening heart issues and I had to be much more creative with my range of other spices than ever before. Nonetheless, I still have a drawer full of approximately 70 salts from around the world and use them cautiously to match the food I'm cooking. I never use standard "table" salt and also have a variety of peppercorns, which I grind fresh as needed. However, as was noted, the addition of salt and/or pepper is a personal preference and I think that providing a "chef's" finishing salt at a meal should still be available to those who desire it, and freshly ground pepper as well.

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