“Food awakens all of your senses. Not only by eating it and how it tastes but also by the way it is harvested and prepared,” shares Terranea Resort’s Executive Chef Bernard Ibarra.
Raised on a farm on the French side of the Basque country, Chef Ibarra’s family lived modestly and relied heavily on the earth and the sea to sustain them. “My mother taught me many things, such as gardening and how to jar tomatoes and other produce that we grew. During rainy days my sister and I would go snail hunting with her and we would process the snails we gathered with salt that we harvested from sea water.”
For someone who spent his youth collecting and creating from the ocean’s bounty, Ibarra’s arrival at Terranea’s Pacific-lined property proved auspicious. Inspired by the rustic, farm-to-table instincts of his upbringings, the innovative chef helped to pilot the resort’s Sea Salt Conservatory that opened in 2015.
The facility was constructed to harvest and produce Terranea’s own signature sea salt. With the help of his staff, Chef Ibarra brings buckets of local seawater from the Pacific to the conservatory, a natural evaporation greenhouse off the shores of Terranea’s cove that produces high-quality sea salt. With this exciting addition, the resort plans to become “sea salt sustainable.”
“Before I began the salt project, I learned that nearby Abalone Cove received a 97 out of 100 points for water quality,” shares the chef. “I sent a sample of sea water and a first batch of salt to the lab for analysis. The salt tested close to 27% sodium content (table salt is typically 40%), and it has more minerals than most salts. The lab chemist who analyzed the salt says it is one of the best he has tested.”
It takes an estimated three to five weeks for the seawater in the conservatory to become salt. Environmental factors, like the sun, wind, fog or rain directly affect the production schedule.
Following rainfall, Chef Ibarra will wait at a minimum 10 days to collect water from the ocean to avoid any contamination caused by run-off and to ensure better quality salt. Rich in minerals including magnesium and potassium our sea salt offers a number of healthy perks, making it both beneficial and delicious.
Along with the conservatory, the resort offers the Terranea Chef’s Table Dinner Series, an interactive and intimate culinary experience of the best in California coastal cuisine. These “Farm-to-Terranea” dinners feature a seasonally themed menu, highlighting the resort’s locally and sustainably grown and foraged ingredients, like the sea salt. Proceeds from the three-course meal and wine pairing also benefit local charitable organizations.
Even more adventurous guests can enjoy the Land to Sea Culinary Immersion Package, a three-day, two-night itinerary led by Chef Ibarra. This full immersion into the resort dining experience offers a farm tour, cooking demonstration, access to the Chef’s Table Dinner Series, interactive workshops highlighting sea salt and honey harvesting, a sommelier-led wine tasting and much more.
Not limited to the kitchens and dining tables of the resort, sea salt will also soon make a notable presence at The Spa at Terranea in saltwater baths, salt exfoliations, and more treatments. Chef Ibarra also has plans to make his own soap from the sea salt later this year. If you need your fix right way, sea beans, located in the front drive, currently sells a variety of infused sea salts for guests to take home including rosemary, smoked, Meyer lemon, and more.
Guests may also explore Terranea by land and sea with an experience highlighting the resort’s Farm-to-Terranea philosophy. At the new Sea Salt Workshop, attendees will enjoy an intimate workshop, salt pairing and wine as they learn about the resort’s sea salt harvesting process with Terranea’s award-winning chefs.
The workshop will include a sea salt tasting and salt pairing along with a glass of wine by ONEHOPE Wine.
10:00 a.m. on the first Saturday of each month at the Sea Salt Conservatory, located adjacent to the Palos Verdes Ballroom Terrace. $70 per person, advance reservations required. *minimum age requirement: 21 years. For more information, please contact 310-265-2885.
Written by Darren Elms | Photographed by Figlewicz Photography