Seasoned Stockist: Cape Cod Cookery Celebrates 20 Years of First-Class Service & Free Advice
The Cape Cod Cookery is full to the brim, and each item has its place. Pans hang by the door; knives along the wall; baking sheets nestled in a basket. Gizmos and gadgets are packed so closely together the wall isn’t even visible. Although the selection is vast, what makes the Cookery is its owner, Tom Verdini.
In 1995, Verdini and his wife moved to Cape Cod from New York City with no intention of opening a kitchen supply store. He left his job as a men’s clothing buyer and was looking for a change of pace. He targeted the needs of the area and the Cape Cod Cookery was born.
Verdini knew how to begin to stock the store, but less about how to sell that stock. “I wasn’t a foodie or a chef by any means,” he says. “But I watched cooking shows and listened to what people want. It takes time.” Verdini has used his passion for helping people and the last twenty years of experience to bring service above and beyond. “It’s the type of place that people—if they like to cook—like to go. It’s like a toy store and it’s a pleasure for them.” It’s clear the store is a pleasure for Verdini as well.
We have just begun to chat when a customer pulls into the lot. A smile creeps slowly across Verdini’s face. “This gentleman coming in…” Verdini laughs and leans in like he’s about to tell me the punch line of a joke. “He makes pickles. He’s probably here to give me an update on his cucumber patch.” (A pickle lover myself, I’m ecstatic.) He straightens up, fixes his collar, leans against the counter, creates the ambience. “How are you?” he calls as a tall man walks through the door.
“I screwed up, Tom,” the man says, shaking his head. “I lost a measuring cup.” And Verdini sets to work, buzzing across the shop to find the exact measuring cup for the man so he doesn’t have to go back to his wife empty handed.
It seems so simple: a tin measuring cup. But upon inquiry, Verdini launches in, explaining different brands, makes, models and why the price is more or less here or there. In the end, Verdini knows what’s best in the case of the lost measuring cup.
“Visiting you is better than seeing a psychiatrist,” the man says as he leaves. He’s oddly right. There is something soothing about the Cape Cod Cookery and Verdini’s cheery presence. “I’ve got a wonderful customer base of people,” says Verdini. “It’s mostly locals, and a lot of second home people that come in the off-season or summer time.”
In tradition with keeping local, Verdini tries to stock as many American made products as possible. “It’s not always easy; I wish there were more,” he confides as we browse around the store, which carries American made products from a small handful of long-standing companies. Off the top of his head, Verdini lists three or four of these companies, including Lodge, a cast iron company based in Chattanooga, Tennessee. “Everybody has used cast iron at some point,” he says. “It’s the original cookware.” And the lesson begins. “These pans are seasoned.” He explains that cast iron cookware has to be seasoned with oil before it can be used. “Otherwise they’re considered raw.”
Each customer has some question for Verdini. He takes as much time as necessary to explain each product. “You know, special attention,” he says, through a smile of pure happiness. The difference between that size and this size; that brand and this brand. “Colors are always a new thing - ice cream scoops, vegetable peelers, you name it. You could have the same item but have it in six colors and you’ll sell all six colors.” But Verdini is giving advice past just the color, and it’s clear that each customer appreciates his input and knowledge.
Everything has its place, but Verdini is partial to the basics. He’s compiled a checklist of the basic kitchen and how to outfit it; it’s all about having things that will last and won’t have to be replaced in a few years. The two main items he suggests investing in are solid cookware and nice cutlery, so take this free Verdini advice! Aside from the basics, you can find everything you need and more at the Cape Cod Cookery: U.S-made pans to Le Creuset pots. You can also find specialty baking items, from cookie cutters down to gourmet sprinkles. Verdini stocks a large amount of spices and Stonewall Kitchen products as well as a few gourmet treats.
After twenty years, more than a few tools have come and gone through the doors of the Cape Cod Cookery, but there isn’t one specific innovation that Verdini recalls. “Honestly, the biggest innovation has been the quality and the variety. There are so many different things and it’s like everything else: you don’t need everything, but some people just like to have the newest and the best and the greatest.” Season to season the products vary: baking products sell well in the winter while grilling products are hot in the summer. But as long as it’s quality, it’ll sell.
“I started with nothing and slowly built it up and built it up and built it up,” Verdini says of the store and of his experience. “I have a nice following of good loyal people who enjoy cooking and like to support local business.” The Cape Cod Cookery is perfect if you have a specific item in mind, are looking to browse, or just want to chat with someone who understands products. “It’s a pleasure to come in here because every day is a little different and it should be.”
Cape Cod Cookery (in the Centerville Shopping Center)
1688 Falmouth Road, Centerville
Open Monday-Friday: 9:30 am-5:30 pm Saturday: 9:30 am-5:00 pm