When Marc Israel decided to move his then 80-year-old family business, Great Lakes Hotel Supply, from downtown Detroit to Southfield in 2013, he knew a different venue that paired the best of his two worlds would emerge.
As a distributor and installer of commercial kitchens, he opened the Great Lakes Culinary Center to give restaurant professionals a chance to personally cook on new equipment before making a purchase.
His culinary center has evolved into a welcoming venue for special events and appetizing food experiences by spotlighting the tools that bring a meal to life. As an event space, Great Lakes also hosts tours for those who want to see and try out the fully operational cooking equipment that Israel distributes.
“We have guided walk-throughs so visitors can step into our beautiful space, physically handle our equipment and learn how our innovative company produces what works,” says Reva Constantine, the culinary center’s executive chef.
“All of the equipment is stationed on rollers, so stoves can be moved around with ease, and staged at strategic spots to meet the needs of diverse audiences,” she adds. Team members from the culinary center frequently assist choosy chefs with a hands-on approach to equipment education.
The center’s chefs are culinary trained and even dabble in showmanship. Great Lakes conducts cooking competitions where chefs play the parts of judge and teacher for the participants wishing to compete.
Constantine says the center puts a different spin on hosting training programs, group activities and simply eating a meal. “We do out-of-the-box things like breakfast for dinner—at a wedding,” she explains. “That’s not a typical thing to do for our kind of professional meetings and events space.”
While individuals and groups can rent the space for special events, such as team-building meetings, company cooking classes, bar mitzvahs or showers, guests also, for example, can enjoy a dinner series called “Sunday Night at Grandmas.” She says it’s a great family event with amazing food.
Catering is big business, too. “We average three to four weddings per month, and a hefty number of corporate meetings during the week,” says Constantine. “If you’re looking for a place that caters in roast beef, then you’ve come to the wrong place.”
Nice Touch: In-The-Garden cares for Great Lake’s on-site organic garden and it produced more than 2,000 salads for events last year.
The center’s indoor space includes a large, open kitchen that is fully equipped with professional amenities. The open floor plan makes any event an interactive experience between guests and the chefs. There’s also an outdoor patio next to the garden that is nice for taking pictures.
With all this space, Constantine is just as sure as owner Israel that the Great Lakes Culinary Center was “destined to become the new, favorite food place to be.”