Comstock's magazine 1118 - November 2018 - Page 35

to showcase the expertise of the nation- ally known culinary authority whom he calls boss and mentor, and to attract customers from around the U.S. to the East Sacramento store. There is a touch of surprise in Mind- ermann’s voice when he acknowledges he’s been with Corti’s for 40 years. “It’s almost a little embarrassing because of the reactions I get. But coming to work is comforting. The bulk of the challeng- es are positive, and I’m given tremen- dous latitude.” Mindermann, who grew up in Land Park, was hired shortly after graduat- ing from C.K. McClatchy High School by co-founder Frank Corti — Darrell’s father. (Brothers Frank and Gino Corti opened the first store in 1947.) “Frank literally handed me an apron and said, ‘If you don’t know something, ask — and always stack my raviolis flat. If you put the boxes on their sides and I get a complaint, you’re in trouble,’” Mindermann recalls. He worked at all four Corti Brothers markets over the decades (three closed due to landlord issues and the supermarket surge), be- ginning as a bagger. He landed full-time as personal assistant to Frank at the cur- rent site on Folsom Boulevard in 1995. Mindermann became store director in 2008 — the same year Sacramento nearly lost its last Corti Brothers market when the landlord of the 20,000-square- foot property decided to bring in anoth- er tenant. The proposed “gourmet bis- tro-market” venture, called Good Eats, was willing to pay more rent than Corti Brothers, which had been operating on a month-to-month lease since 1988. In response, more than 500 sup- porters rallied in the parking lot, Mind- ermann recalls. Among them were es- teemed Sacramento restaurateurs and chefs who lined up at a microphone to give testimonials — Biba Caggiano, Kurt Spataro, Randy Paragary, Mai Pham and Patrick Mulvaney among them. The Good Eats principals stood down, and Corti Brothers signed a long-term lease a few months later, which is still in effect today. Sample bottles of balsamic vinegar and olive oil wait for Rick Mindermann and Darrell Corti to taste-test them. Today, Mindermann’s job is complex and unrelenting, requiring a deep-dive familiarity with all aspects of food and wine, and the skills to procure and sell them. “One of the advantages of having Rick here is he enjoys interacting with customers, showing and telling them the Davis Farmers Market, Mindermann set up in-store demonstrations for her and added the French pastries to the inventory. Glistening filets appeared in the seafood display case soon after Sac- ramento restaurateur Michael Sampino told Mindermann he had a connec- “the two most critical things we have at corti’s are our relationships with customers and our ability to continue to learn so we can teach them and offer them new things.” ~ Rick Mindermann, store director, Corti Brothers new things they might never have seen or known,” Darrell Corti says. Mindermann deals with some of the most influential food and wine produc- ers, distributors and merchants in the world. At the same time, he and Cor- ti delight in discovering unusual local products. For instance, when baker-entrepre- neur Margaret Waterhouse decided to sell her trademark macaroons beyond tion in Bodega Bay who could supply top-quality fresh-off-the-boat halibut. “In a lot of ways I’m a docent,” Mindermann says. “The two most criti- cal things we have at Corti’s are our rela- tionships with customers and our abili- ty to continue to learn so we can teach them and offer them new things.” One longtime Corti’s regular is JaRue S. Manning, a professor emeritus of viti- culture at UC Davis. He’s a fixture every November 2018 | comstocksmag.com 35