So if you're Michael Cimarusti (Providence), Josiah Citrin (Melisse), or Mark Peel (Campanile), where do you pick up that giant wheel of 24-month Parmigiano Reggiano, that mess of dried morels, or those imported speciality olive oils? Since 1989, the Los Angeles go-to-gal for wholesale gourmet imports has been Nicole Grandjean of Nicole's Gourmet Imports. Most folks now know her from her provincial storefront and café in South Pasadena.

The café's only been around since 2001, but for the past 20 years she's earned a reputation for delivering high end gourmet imports and hard-to-find specialty goods to L.A.'s most discriminating chefs. Nicole does offer some of those items for sale on the market side of her café–and for one day, she and her son Steven will open up their wholesale import warehouse in Alhambra to the public: 1500 square feet of refrigerated gustatory treasures.

Steven Grandjean, Nicole's son and head of the import business, says that most of the chefs who buy from them are very hands-on with their food purchases. The warehouse is a unique little island among a string of places where they go to put together their menus and get new ideas. Opening it up to the public for a day seemed like a good way to inspire the home cook as well.

“Chefs have so much star power now and people wonder what chefs are buying and where they shop. We can give them a one-day experience–wholesale pricing and all–and spark interest in some really great food.”

And a lot of it. The warehouse is home to over 350 kinds of cheese, both imported and a few high end domestic varieties. Oils and vinegars from Spain, Portugal, and Italy, along with pâtés, pastry products, and pastas and grains also line the walls. One hopes it could become a regular event, but Grandjean says it's not likely.

“Annual, maybe. Depends on the response. But we're not looking to do more than that. It's nice to offer a deal, but it's really about sparking an interest in these high quality items.”

The one-day warehouse sale takes place on August 22nd, from 10AM to 4PM. Steven Granjean will be manning the barbeque outside so that you can have a little summertime food with your, um, food.

Nicole's Gourmet Imports Warehouse:961 South Meridian Ave., Alhambra; (626) 403-5751. Nicole's Gourmet Foods: 921 Meridian Ave., South Pasadena; (626) 403-5751.

Felicia Friesema also writes More, please.

LA Weekly