Comstock's magazine 1118 - November 2018 - Page 34

n TASTE MR. FIXER Corti Brothers’ Rick Mindermann brings new ideas to the time-honored market BY Allen Pierleoni PHOTOS: Debbie Cunningham R Rick Mindermann started working at Corti Brothers 40 years ago, beginning as a bagger. 34 | November 201 8 ick Mindermann strides through Corti Brothers wearing his stan- dard attire of khaki slacks, a white shirt, tie and black grocer’s apron (a box cutter is always close at hand). He dash- es down the grocery aisles, through the swinging doors to the warehouse and back out, past the meat counter and deli, down a crowded hallway to the production kitchen, then up the stairs to his office. Along the way, he abruptly halts ev- ery so often to answer customers’ ques- tions (“Do you have any crème fraiche?” “Which brand of pasta is best?”). He lin- gers for a teaching moment with a cus- tomer holding a jar of Giuliano Hazan’s San Marzano tomato sauce: “Giuliano’s mother was cookbook author Marcella Hazan, who was known as the Italian Julia Child,” Mindermann explains. “He adapted this recipe from one of hers, and I think he made it better. It’s full of onions and butter.” While renowned culinary schol- ar Darrell Corti is the legend of the specialty-goods store, Corti Brothers, which he transformed into a totem of food and wine culture, Mindermann is the day-to-day fixer behind the scenes. A big part of his role as store director has been to bring a new-school men- tality to the old-school market without sacrificing the store’s charm, unique- ness or customer service — critical components to Corti Brothers holding strong against competition from big su- permarket chains through the decades. Mindermann has done this in part by elevating the store’s digital presence