Most kitchen-and-bath showrooms are quiet places where customers walk around viewing displays. Not so at Nordic Kitchens & Baths (1818 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, 504-888-2300; www.nordickitchens.com) earlier this month, when people chatted, sipped wine and watched a cooking demonstration by chef Garth Blackburn of SubZero/Wolf Appliances before digging into a meal prepared in the showroom.
The upscale kitchen and bath supplier holds demonstration events including cocktail parties, dinners and outdoor kitchen seminars showcasing Kalamazoo grills. Nordic Kitchens president Randall Shaw says it's a fun way to let customers know what's new in kitchen design.
"Customers might see a steam oven and think, 'What would I do with that, besides steam vegetables?'" Shaw says. "They don't realize they could cook sous-vide style (with meat parboiled in sealed plastic bags) or cook bread in it, or use it instead of a microwave, because it refreshes the food while it reheats.
"So much has changed since your basic cooktop-and-oven range," Shaw says. "Steam ovens, built-in coffeemakers, [combination] ovens, griddles, grills, in-counter steamers and fryers, induction cooktops. There are so many new products. ... The reason for our events is to get people into our showroom and see what we have, and try to educate them."
Nordic Kitchens and Baths started as a small shop featuring European cabinetry and has become a supplier of products and design services. "We sell every high-end line of appliance there is," Shaw says. "We're only going to carry the best products that have tried-and-true customer response."
The shop's designers — Shaw and certified kitchen designer Michael Haase — offer expert advice and direction to help customers get the kitchens they want. "Our job is to guide them, but in the end the client is the boss," Shaw says.
In addition to brands like Poggenpohl, Dacor, U-Line, Bosch and La Cornue, Nordic Kitchens offers custom-design consultations and customer service that Shaw calls exceptional. "We do a lot of hand-holding with our clients," he says, laughing. "I tell clients that if you're renovating, it's the most miserable experience — it's not a quick process, it's not an overnight process, and it's not comfortable to live without a kitchen. But in the end, the product they get is going to be life-changing."
Nordic Kitchens will host an upcoming series of cooking classes. "We have clients who've never cooked before and are now coming back to us and saying they want to take cooking classes because they are enjoying their kitchens so much," Shaw says. "They want to stay home more, and eat in more, and entertain at home. Their feelings about their home have changed."