At traditional viewings of new homes, prospective buyers spend more time examining the size of the bedrooms and the luxuriousness of the spa-like bathrooms than they do fingering the stainless steel appliances in the kitchen — let alone watching a meal as it is cooked in what may become their new home.
But this wasn’t the typical open house.
To build buzz within the Orthodox community about its new boutique condominium on West 96th Street, Manor Properties Group recently hosted “It’s All Kosher,” a complimentary cooking class taught by Chef Avram Wiseman, dean of The Center for Kosher Culinary Arts (www.kosherculinaryarts.com), a kosher cooking school located in Brooklyn.
“This is an absolutely stunning kitchen to work in,” gushed Wiseman, as he poured soymilk and flour for buckwheat blinis into a mixing bowl. “This state-of-the-art Viking range: there are not too many times I get to work on one of these.”
Once the pancakes were cooked, the chef topped them with smoked salmon and pareve sour cream and passed them out for the guests to taste. At that point, kosher sommelier Jay Buchsbaum of Baron Herzog Wines distributed plastic wine-tasting glasses filled with Goose Bay Sauvignon Blanc, a fruity wine with a lemony taste that is produced using grapes harvested in New Zealand.
He then led the audience through the “Five S’s” of wine tasting: seeing the color and clarity of the wine, swirling it to release its aroma, smelling it, savoring it (“you need to involve your entire tongue”), and, finally, spitting it out or swallowing it.
“He definitely put us in a good mood,” one guest remarked, after downing his second cup of wine.
“I thought it was an ingenious idea,” Simon Shamilzadeh of Manor Properties Group told The Jewish Week. “You get to see everything in action.”
After the cooking demonstration, Shamilzadeh, an Orthodox Jew, highlighted the unique amenities of the 1,987-square-foot, three-bedroom, three-bath home, which occupies an entire floor of the building. The luxury condos at 208 W. 96th St. are equipped with Shabbat elevators and the kitchens have two separate sinks and sink areas. He also pointed out that the central vacuum system, which wasn’t yet working, is outfitted with a vent on the kitchen floor to suck up errant crumbs.
The building has electronic security and features refrigerated valet closets on the ground floor for FreshDirect and other perishable deliveries.
The goal was to make prospective buyers feel like guests.
“I don’t think anybody felt crowded in that apartment,” said Shamilzadeh. “Everybody felt extremely comfortable. It’s a great indication that you can have a party of 35 people in your home and not even be crowded.” (The three bathrooms, he said, “also help.”)
While the building — located on the heavily Jewish Upper West Side — boasts amenities that an Orthodox family with young children would find appealing, it is not only catering to observant Jews. Previously, 208 West 96th St. hosted an open house in conjunction with the local Gourmet Garage, with the hopes of attracting foodies and connoisseurs of organic food. The building’s second community event was a story time and cupcake party in the middle of the day, aimed at highlighting the building’s family-friendly nature.
The key to success, no matter the crowd, is to “make sure to have a lot of wine and food on hand,” Shamilzadeh says.
While a majority of the people who attend these events probably won’t end up purchasing the $2.3 million apartments, he believes that the costs incurred in hosting these events will prove worthwhile.
“We’re basically telling people in the community to come out and see it,” he says. “Word of mouth is the best form of advertisement.”