Specialty Food Magazine

APR 2012

Specialty Food Magazine is the leading publication for retailers, manufacturers and foodservice professionals in the specialty food trade. It provides news, trends and business-building insights that help readers keep their businesses competitive.

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CHEESE FOCUS A Berkshire Cheese Merchant Rubiner's Cheesemongers & Grocers in Great Barrington, Mass., features "local foods from around the world," a year-round café and, soon, a cheese cave in an old bank vault. BY JANET FLETCHER Matthew Rubiner The History…Matthew Rubiner was a young defense analyst working at MIT and envisioning a think-tank career when a trip to Italy with friends in the wine business derailed those plans. Smitten with the wine and food world, Rubiner began to contem- plate a future without a doctoral degree. At a wine dinner he met Ihsan Gurdal, owner of Formaggio Kitchen, Cambridge Mass., and soon after left MIT for a minimum-wage job at Gurdal's shop, where he spent six years. In 2003, an acquaintance invited him to open a specialty food store in an old bank building she had purchased in Great Barrington, Mass., and thus, Rubiner's Cheesemongers & Grocers was born. The stately three-story structure dates from 1869 and boasts a columned portico, mahog- any doors and, of course, a bank vault, which will eventually be repurposed as a cheese-ripening cave. The Mission…"From Formaggio Kitchen, I knew what I cher- ished about this business," says Rubiner. "I loved being a cheese- monger. I recognized it as a trade and loved learning the tricks and the tools. And I loved the performance of it." With that theatrical notion in mind, Rubiner created a large island in the center of his 1,200-square-foot store—"very much like a stage," he says. "We stand in the middle and the customers gather around." Rubiner, the grandson of a grocer, works the floor every day. He focuses his buying on small-production items that speak to him of a particular place, what he describes as "local foods from 16 ❘ SPECIALTY FOOD MAGAZINE ❘ specialtyfood.com PHOTOS: COURTESY OF JASON HOUSTON

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