When Formaggio Kitchen, a "gourmand's paradise doubling as a neighborhood grocer" opened in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1978, no one predicted that it would grow into the importing powerhouse (now with locations in Boston and New York and historical footnote (Julia Child was a loyal customer) that it is today. We caught up with Tim Bucciarelli, one of the men tasked with overseeing the day-to-day of the empire, and asked him about the journey that brought him-and took him away and brought him back again-to Formaggio Kitchen.
I wear many hats here-I manage the website, buy the dry-good imports, and handle our mail order business, among other things. Sometimes I even get to help out at the cheese counter.
My three older siblings all worked at Formaggio Kitchen when they were teenagers. When I was 14, I started coming in during non-school/non-homework hours. I worked registers at first, then I moved on to the bakery and the cheese counter when I got old enough to work with sharp things like knives and the slicer. I continued to work over holidays while in college, but my hours petered out as I discovered other interests.
After graduating, I moved to D.C. and did Teach for America (toughest job I'll ever have). Then I left for the corporate world, although I did carve out a hole in schedule so I could work part-time in a small specialty food shop in D.C. I always kept coming back to food, but I never really put it together that I could actually make it work as a profession.
Everything started to click when I moved to San Diego, took a year off, and helped write a business plan for a new cheese shop. I decided to head back to Boston and Formaggio Kitchen. Each day, as soon as I get in, I walk through the shop and look at the shelves to get a since of any nips and tucks that need to be done.
We sell lots of cheese -- Comté from affineur Marcel Petite is our most popular item-so I also spend some lugging seventy-pound wheels of the stuff down to our "cheese caves". They're actually two rooms in our basement that allow us to store cheese at optimum temperature and humidity for aging.
On a slow day, we do the usual organizing and cleaning. But what really makes Formaggio Kitchen an amazing place to work is interacting with the people who come in. We get all kinds: parents rushing in to pick up muffins for their kids on the way to school, construction workers from nearby sites looking for lunch, local chefs searching for specialty items for their menus. It's the customers-as well as the producers, suppliers, and staff members I work with-that keep me interested, challenged and humbled every day.