Marketing, French Culinary Style

When I moved to New York to attend The French Culinary Institute I not only rediscovered the joy of traditional European cooking, but also traditional European marketing. I lived in Geneva, Switzerland for four years growing up, and spent the time exploring all of the culinary treats the Swiss had to offer. Never a finicky eater, I fell in love with all aspects of the cuisine, from garlicky escargots to pungent raclette cheese. And I learned early the value of good ingredients, and good purveyors.

While modern supermarkets exist throughout Switzerland and greater Europe, there is still emphasis on specialty shops that sell a specific category of product. Naturally it's more convenient time-wise to make a single stop at Migros (the Swiss Safeway) for all of one's groceries. But quality-wise, it's better to visit the specialists: la boucherie for meat, la patisserie for baked goods, etc. The care taken with the products can be the difference in caliber between a fast food meal and one cooked at home.

Luckily New York abounds in specialty shops, more so than many other American cities. Not only are there butcher shops, fishmongers and bakeries in most neighborhoods, but scattered about the city are stores that specialize in the very specific: pasta, popcorn, bialys, cupcakes and more. As a culinary student (or general foodie), it's a wonderful opportunity to visit these places and sample the work of the masters.

One of my favorite marketing destinations in Manhattan is Bleeker Street, just off of 6th Avenue. It's a shopper's oasis, wether you're looking for a prepared meal or ingredients for your own creation. Say I want to make a multi-course Italian dinner for friends. Within skipping distance are the ingredients for an antipasto platter (focaccia from Amy's Bread, cured meats, cheeses and olives from Murray's Cheese Shop), a pasta course (linguine with Lobster Place's littleneck clams), a main course (roasted pork loin from Faicco's Pork Store) and dessert (cannoli from Rocco's Pastry, of course). If I'm looking for spices, Aphrodisia has an abundant selection, and O&CO takes care of any olive oil needs.The only difficulty of marketing like this in Manhattan is getting all of those groceries back home on the subway.