The Sub-Zero and Wolf brand Living Kitchen at Specialties
A cooking class at Specialties with Chef Charles Keeps
Cooking Up A Party
Jenn and Benji Gene hold their wedding reception in a building full of kitchens.
Shelli Liebman Dorfman
newlyweds Benji and Jenn Baker
Gene flew 1,100 miles to hold
their wedding reception in a massive show-
room filled with kitchen appliances and
The party was the second of two recep-
tions. The first followed their June 3,
2012, wedding in Delray Beach, Fla.,
not far from their home in Boca Raton.
For Benji, 31, who grew up in West
Bloomfield, and Jenn, 36, who wanted to
celebrate with her new family and friends
in Michigan, a second party at Specialties
Appliance and Plumbing Fixtures in
Berkley was the perfect fit.
A high-end appliance and plumbing
showroom by day, on weekends and eve-
nings Specialties often fills with guests
attending parties, events and charity func-
"We found a small venue that we loved in
Florida, but also wanted to celebrate with
everyone in Michigan so two receptions
was a great solution:' said Jenn, the daugh-
ter of Merrily Baker of Boca Raton and Dr.
Willson Baker of Fremont, Ohio. Jenn also
has a Michigan connection, having gone to
high school in Okemos.
The suggestion of the unique party
site came from the owners of Specialties
who happen to be Benji's mom's sisters
and brothers-in-law, Dorothy and Eddy
Barak, and Karen and Ken Goss, all of West
Bloomfield, and their families.
"Our amazing Aunt Dorothy and Uncle
Eddy offered it, and we couldn't think of a
better place to celebrate," Jenn said. "After
all, a wedding is all about family and our
family built Specialties.
"When they offered to host a reception
for all our Michigan friends, we jumped at
the chance said Benji, whose parents are
Sharon and Marty Gene of Boca Raton.
The final decision to use the venue came
26 May 22 • 2014
after Ken Goss spoke
with the couple.
"After he told
us they hold char-
ity events, cooking
classes and showers
there all the time, our
hearts were set on
being the first wed-
ding reception:' Jenn
parts of the meals
are set up at differ-
ent stations, like one
for salads, one for
carved foods, another
for protein:' Dorothy
said. "The food
stations can be sur-
and a lot of
people can be served
at the same time:'
There is space at
Specialties for 125
people at a sit-down
Parties at Specialties
affair and 250 at a
are typically catered
— often by Annabel
The 100 guests at
Cohen or Charles
the Genes' reception
Keeps. But for the
were seated at tables
Jenn and Benji Gene at their wedding
Genes' event, held
reception at Specialties Appliance and
on July 15, 2012,
were designed and
Plumbing Fixtures in Berkley
assembled by family
recipes were pre-
pared by Benji's mom, Sharon, her sisters
"Every niece and nephew helped;
Dorothy and Karen, and their sister-in-law
Dorothy said. "We used hydrangeas, like
Doris Blechman of Bloomfield Hills.
the ones in the bouquets and on tables at
Hors d'oeuvres were served on the
Jenn and Benji's Florida reception, along
countertops and islands of the nine
with baby roses and other flowers that
showroom display kitchens, complete
all came from Karen's garden and mine
with appliances built into professionally
Eddy Barak piped in background music
"One of the beauties of having these
through the company's sound system and
vignette kitchens is that guests can move
played a video montage from Jenn and
Benji's wedding in Florida.
through the showroom, going from one to
"Setup, errand-running and shlepping
the next for foods that are presented in dif-
ferent areas:' Dorothy said.
were done by all members of the extended
"Bar stools and chairs at the counters
family:' Sharon said. "We are blessed to
allow the guests to sit for a moment before
have such a wonderful family to help make
moving onto the next vignette," Sharon
our simchahs so memorable:'
The main course at functions like
Parties And More Parties
Jenn and Benji's reception is served in
Specialties became a party venue seven
Specialties' Living Kitchen, a 1,000-square-
years ago when the Living Kitchen space
foot enclosed space that houses the high-
end Sub-Zero and Wolf brand appliances in
"First we held low-key cooking classes:'
a real kitchen setting.
"Instead of a large buffet table that takes
From there, the 20-year-old Specialties
guests a long time to get through, different
began to branch out into everything from
corporate bonding functions and Iron Chef
competitions to events hosted by Jewish
organizations and agencies like Yad Ezra
(a next-door neighbor), Jewish Federation,
Hadassah, ORT and the Mesivta of West
Bloomfield. Bridal showers have included
the fun of a sushi cook-off.
Like the Genes' celebration, kosher par-
ties can be arranged.
In addition to being open six days a week
for customers to shop and experience the
interactive kitchen appliances, plumbing
fixtures, outdoor appliances and gas grills,
Specialties Showroom is often the site of
The owners host the annual Team Alex
Kickoff event for riders in the Make-A-
Wish Michigan, Wish-A-Mile Bicycle
Tour. Charitable involvement includes the
frequent donation of a culinary class for 34
"Over the years, there have been many
celebrations, birthday parties and show-
ers held in the showroom, and we have
seen how well it has worked out," Sharon
said. "We decided to use Specialties for our
reception because it has a warm and homey
feeling as you move through the various
"We were fortunate to have all of our
family help in putting the event together;
Benji said. "This made it an extra special
day for us. And if it helped to sell a few
Sub-Zero or Wolf appliances, all the better:'
Jenn and Benji, now the parents of
7-month-old Sophia, agreed both the venue
and the party were perfect.
"The showroom was decorated so beauti-
fully and the food was made with love by
our family:' Jenn said. "We were surround-
ed by family, friends — and beautiful appli-
ances. What more could we ask for:'
Specialties Appliance and Plumbing Fixtures is
located at 2800 W.11 Mile Road in Berkley, (248)
548-5656, www.specialtiesshowroom.com .