It began with Alain Senderens. The man behind lobster with vanilla sauce. He combined the inherent sweetness of lobster with the flavors of vanilla and butter. The ingredients play off each other and create a harmony. The flavor of vanilla is apparent in many other ingredients and is piqued by cooking techniques and ingredient combinations.
We wanted to be able to control and further accent ingredients with the flavor of vanilla, and by combining it with fleur de sel we were able to use the salts ability to awaken the senses to punctuate the flavor of vanilla. We now use vanilla fleur de sel in many dishes from goose foie gras torchon with rhubarb-horseradish-dill topped with a sprinkling of the vanilla salt, to our Margarita pre-dessert: prickly pear tapioca with yuzu tequila froth and vanilla fleur de sel.
We still pay homage to Senderens' initial discovery with sweet shrimp tartar with vanilla salt and sliced shiso. Without the original, we may not have discovered our potential.
*Food for thought, we just added vanilla soy sauce to our repertoire.