When Suzanne Podhaizer opened Salt in Montpelier late last year, she always meant it to be more than just a restaurant. Early on, the former Seven Days food editor offered a few classes, but she quickly found she couldn’t juggle teaching with running the restaurant and adding a retail section. Thanks to a new team, she’s now doing all three.
Matt Skobrak, a New England Culinary Institute student in his final year, has replaced original Salt chef Dan Green. (Green is now at Bristol Bakery & Café.) At NECI, Skobrak is a regular contributor to the school’s sustainability-focused Futures in Food blog. “We felt like he was a perfect match for Salt,” says Podhaizer, who collaborates with the chef on a new themed menu based on local ingredients every three weeks. The autumnal menu that runs through November 6 includes braised beef with cardamom, apricots and garbanzo beans; and a dessert of roasted-squash pots de crème.
A second new Salt employee, Emily McKenna, comes straight from a job as associate food editor at Real Simple magazine. She’s helping Podhaizer with bookkeeping and marketing efforts, including establishing a stronger social media presence. With McKenna taking some of the load, Podhaizer plans to reintroduce cooking classes at the restaurant. Each Sunday between November 6 and 20, she will teach a different skill that goes into preparing Thanksgiving dinner, from turkey to dessert.
Next up: Podhaizer is adding a retail section to her cozy Barre Street location. For Halloween, Salt sold homemade marshmallows shaped like pumpkins and bats, chipotle caramel corn, and salty-sweet peanut-butter cups. This week, shelves will arrive, and Podhaizer and co. will fill them with “homemade snacks and sweets and artisanal food products that you can’t find anywhere else,” she says. Look for flavored salts and chocolates made on site, as well as quirky products such as wood-fired coffee.