Comstock's magazine 1118 - November 2018 - Page 36

n TASTE Rick Mindermann films Darrell Corti for Corti TV, which the store director created in 2011 and now has an archive of more than 800 videos. Saturday. “Corti’s is a combination of social occasion, museum of food mem- orabilia and elegant specialty store,” Manning says. “I always get new infor- mation from the staff in the different departments. They’re really professors with their own areas of expertise.” Paula J. Johnson, curator of the Smithsonian Institution’s Food History program, describes Corti Brothers as “an educational experience as well as a gustatory one. Since the 1970s, Darrell Corti has traveled the world to find an array of unexpected specialty foods and wines and bring them to people’s atten- tion, and then letting them in on their stories.” Johnson says Corti made a huge dif- ference in California’s culinary direction in the 1970s, during a time when the state was influencing the food history of the nation. “I always stop in whenev- er I’m anywhere near Sacramento and can’t get out the door in under an hour,” she adds. The store’s primary marketing tool is the newsletter Corti has written for 40 years, with food and wine history and education about speciality prod- ucts. In 2012, Mindermann digitized the newsletter — which remains in black and white, without graphics or other flourishes — on the store’s website; the newsletter now has a national digital circulation of 5,000. “The typical target clientele for a supermarket is a 1- to 5-mile radius,” he says. “We have peo- ple who come from a 100-mile radius — and some who fly into Sacramento — with printouts of the newsletter in hand.” Always enamored of audiovisu- al means (Mindermann was involved in film in the 1980s as a sideline to his Corti Brothers’ job), he created Corti TV in 2011, which now has an archive of more than 800 videos that give cus- tomers insight into Corti’s business and international travels. “Because Darrell is a Renaissance man, he doesn’t have an interest in technology,” Mindermann says. “But, in a way, my skill sets allow him to participate.” This particular morning, Minder- mann makes his third trip to the store’s warehouse. On a counter are samples of Italian hazelnuts, walnut butter, bottled cherries and bags of short-grain rice. “Not a day goes by that I’m not tast- ing something new,” he says, offering a bag of galip nuts from Papua New Guin- ea, which Corti Brothers partner Allan Darrah discovered on a recent trip. Once, driving near Modesto, Darrah stopped at a roadside stand and bought some unusually light and tasty corn nuts. “He brought them back here, and we loved them,” Mindermann says. “I found a producer who would custom- make them for us. Now we sell 6 tons a year.” Mindermann pauses to answer his cellphone. It’s a customer wanting to know about a certain high-end olive oil. Earlier, he’d spent a half-hour giving an- other customer a course in the produc- tion of real balsamic vinegar. For a moment, Mindermann is re- flective, then says, “I’m a loyalist, and this job is my life. It’s not about the money, it’s about the ride — something new, something interesting, something challenging every day. My mantra is, ‘If it’s good for Corti Brothers, then I’m good, too.’” n Allen Pierleoni is a freelance writer in Sacramento. He worked for the Sacramento Bee as a writer and editor in the features department for 30 years. Want to learn more about how Corti Brothers has elevated its digital presence? Visit 36 | November 201 8