By Pamela Brown
Sharing good food with others is what life is all about for Susan Guletsky. “I saw a bumper sticker once that said, ‘love people, cook them good food.’ I’d rather have you come to my house for dinner than go out. When you invite people into your home and serve them good food, you show your affection, respect, and gratitude for them,” says Guletsky, owner of The Discerning Palate in Litchfield.
Opened in February, the specialty food store is one-third gourmet cheese shop, one-third Italian deli, and one-third Southern European grocery, as Guletsky describes it. Tables and shelves are filled with a selection of savory and sweet foods from France, Italy, and Spain. The store also carries local products such as fresh pasta from Durante’s in New Haven, sausage from Waterbury, and pesto made by Geppetto’s Osteria in Litchfield. Guletsky notes the products at her store complement The Bakehouse next door. “Jeremy, the baker, has been extremely helpful with advice, ideas, and camaraderie. I met him when I was trying to come up with a business plan and needed some way to guess how many customers I might get,” she says, adding, “he makes delicious bread that goes so very well with all that I sell.”
A commercial airline captain with United Airlines for 33 years and still flying, Guletsky is always searching for the next best ingredient. “Whenever I travel, I go into fresh food markets and supermarkets and try things. One day I bought a French dijon mustard on a whim and I liked its sharper flavor,” says Guletsky who grew up in Lincoln, Rhode Island where good Italian food was readily available. “In Northwestern Connecticut it’s not, so maybe I’m not the only one who thinks you get better mustard in France. The French, Italian, and Spanish don’t skimp on quality. I thought, if it doesn’t exist here, maybe it needs to.” That’s how The Discerning Palate was born. “It goes back to my epicurean curiosity. I love introducing people to new foods, new dishes, and sharing recipes.”
Connecting with others through her store is a bonus, says Guletsky, a resident of Litchfield since 2016. “I get to meet my neighbors and I enjoy the interaction. And I’ve had customers invite me to parties,” she says. “That’s deeply rewarding. And then there are the gals that work in the shop. I might not have met them otherwise and would be sadder for it.”
The holidays are special for Guletsky. “That’s when I want traditional foods I grew up with. Holidays had special treats, like strufoli at Christmas,” she says. “My mom, dad, and my aunts were good cooks, and now my cousins are good cooks. I can produce a killer antipasto that my parents would enjoy. Even the sandwiches I offer at the store are made in the style they taught me.”
Guletsky feels fortunate to have a business that allows her to share a love of good food. “They say food is love. That’s what holidays are about,” she says. “I want to make sure people can create their own memories with food.”
7 North Street, Litchfield, 860-361-6580, discerningpalate.store