When a chef wants cheese (or any other food product for that matter), there's one man to whom they turn: Nicholas Farrell, a former chef who's spent the past nine years as a sales rep for Italco Food Products, four of which have also been devoted to managing a wholly separate world marketplace website called mondofood.com. And now, Farrell, along with his partner Michael Davis, also an ex-chef and a guy, quips Farrell, who "speaks geek really, really well," have opened Mondo Market in The Source, joining Comida, and soon, Acorn, Babette's Bakery, a butcher and other restaurants, breweries, distilleries and artisan producers, all of whom are part of the new 25,000-square-foot culinary galleria in River North.
"Michael and I were debating between opening a bigger fulfillment center, or rolling the dice and doing a full-on retail shop and while, frankly, a fulfillment center would have been a lot cheaper," admits Farrell, "I went to Eataly -- the one in Torino -- the Ferry Building in San Francisco and Granville Island, a market in Vancouver, and when I got back to Denver, the first words out of my mouth were that we needed some sort of really cool indoor market here."
And then he got wind of a marketplace that embodied exactly what he was looking for. "I stated hearing about The Source and got together with Kyle and Andra [Zeppelin], the developers, and they give me a tour when it was still a dirty, old building, but I knew it had a tremendous amount of potential," says Farrell, whose shop, which opened on Sunday, is a fantasy world of cheeses from around the globe, locally procured spices -- hundreds of them -- and an orgy of enviable Italian products that line the industrialized pallet racks.
"I couldn't envision us doing this kind of market in a strip mall, or even downtown because the rent is so expensive, but opening a market here made so much sense for so many reasons, including the fact that it's really about the community aspect of us all working together," says Farrell.
His shop, which also boasts a lovely selection of salumi and charcuterie products, including Levoni pancetta cotta (try finding that at any other market or deli in Denver), sandwiches and a front-and-center table "venue" for book signings, personalized cheese courses, demos and tastings, will eventually stock 100 cheeses. And the spices, which include everything from caraway seeds and cinnamon sugar to Chimayo chile powder and garam masala, will soon be the envy of home cooks who want to replicate recipes.
The goal, says Farrell, is to incorporate the "Build-a-Bear philosophy insomuch that if you have a recipe for two that you want to make for 100, we can help you blend the right amount of spices to increase the recipe. We're the ingredients people, and if you want 100 meatballs instead of ten, we can customize a spice blend that will enable you to do that."
And he's excited about what lies ahead. "We're super-excited to show our products off, and I love that we're in this amazing old building that's putting new ideas in here. This is exactly what Denver needs," says Farrell.
Mondo Market is open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily. Here's a first taste of what you'll see when you go exploring.