Quality items make Grand Gourmet a hit with chefs
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As the proprietor of Grand Gourmet, 18900 W. Bluemound Rd., Marypat Wulff spends much of her time dealing with professional chefs, aspiring gourmets, fanatical foodies and baking buffs.
If you need something for the kitchen -- be it a basic wooden spoon, potato peeler, particular pan or an expensive espresso machine -- Wulff will show you where it is stocked or place an order on your behalf.
"That's kind of what sets us apart," she says. "We carry items of very high quality, including a few brands that you can't buy anywhere else in the area, and if you're looking for something special -- something that your grandmother used -- we will special-order it."
Not everyone who walks through the door at the Galleria West is a cooking buff. But, Wulff knows how to deal with skeptical husbands and boyfriends tagging along on shopping trips or searching for a cooking-related gift.
"Sometimes, we'll get men in here who will see a pan or a knife or something that costs $100 or $200 and they are stunned," she said.
Wulff responds to those situations with a comparison that provides perspective.
She asks the men if they play golf.
If the answer is yes, she asks how much they spent on particular clubs, like a driver, putter or sand wedge. Like golfers, musicians or carpenters, cooks are particular about their equipment.
"There is a big difference in quality," she said. "When you get to a certain level, you can tell the difference between high-end items and things you'd get at a chain store. There is nothing wrong with the chain stores, but they can't offer the selection that we can."
While golfers browse high-end brands like Ping, Callaway, Nike, Titleist, chefs at Grand Gourmet look at Le Creuset, a manufacturer of fine enameled cast iron cookware, or pans from All-Clad, food processors from Cuisinart and knives from Wustof.
"Because of the things we offer, we draw customers from all over," said Wulff, who once sold advertising for OnMilwaukee.com. "We get people from Madison, Racine, Kenosha. They really come from all over."
While lounging by the full kitchen in the back of the store, Wulff mentions that Grand Gourmet was the first establishment in the state to in-store offer cooking classes. A sign-up sheet by the cash register indicates that business in that department is brisk.
The cooking classes, coupled with the continuity of being in the same location for nearly 20 years, have helped Grand Gourmet outlast some competitors. The Cooking Store, which operated in the V. Richard's Plaza on the south side of Bluemound Road, closed recently and so did Gourmet Outfitters, a Mequon-based gourmet shop which opened a location at Sendik's Towne Center on Capitol Drive in Brookfield and ended up closing both.
"We're still around," Wulff said. "Most of the other places are chains or geared toward the commercial side of the business, but we're still here.
"I think what sets us apart is the brands we carry and the fact that we'll special-order whatever the customer needs."
Here is information on other cooking / restaurant supply stores in the area:
American Restaurant Equipment
900 N 46th St., (414) 257-3188
Fein Brothers Inc.
2007 N. King Dr. (414) 562-0220
Fleischmann Supply Co., Inc
7924 W Burleigh St. (414) 873-3080
5250 S 6th St., (414) 483-1800
Star Restaurant Supply
2324 S 6th St. (414) 384-7777
Wisconsin Restaurant Supply
6301 W. National Ave., (414) 778-2290
Mayfair Mall, 2500 N. Mayfair Rd., (414) 771-3755
5800 N. Bayshore Dr. (414) 967-8879
Not only does The Grand Gourmet always have the best products in the industry, it also delivers "World CLass' customer service! When ever I am at a loss in the kitchen, I rely on the talented, gracious staff at The Grand Gourmet to come to my aid! Thank you Mary Pat Wulff- for leading your wonderful staff and for sticking in there during these hard times! While others are folding, you keep moving forward! You've got a customer for life!
This is a fantastic store that is operated by absolutely wonderful people. I am by no means a chef, but after taking a couple classes there and several purchases later I can definitely hold my own when its my turn for the dinner party! I never leave the store empty handed and neither will you when you see their selection. Happy cooking!
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