I was inspired to write this in response to the reputation that seaside bed & Breakfasts acquired with regards to the breakfasts that were on offer in previous years, what you could expect these days, and the preconceptions that still exist amongst those that remember or have been told about the breakfasts of old. Obviously, I can only talk about the breakfasts we offer in our own Guest House/Bed and Breakfast through this article and the typical breakfasts I’ve written about below are 3 actual mornings in July this year.
Breakfast offerings have on the whole, vastly improved over time in terms of quality and choice with some offering a buffet style breakfast, some ask you to pre-order the day or night before but we, and many others prefer to allow you to order your breakfast at breakfast time and we then cook it freshly for you. Each breakfast is bespoke to each person with our guests being encouraged to create their own breakfast from any available ingredients.
I hope you find this an interesting article and will see that B&Bs can offer far more in the way of breakfast these days than you ever imagined or can be found in most hotels. The ingredients we use can be expensive, but you know what, they encourage people to return without booking online. That way we don’t have to pay commissions and that helps pay the extra cost for a quality breakfast.
Where do we get our ingredients from?
We obtain as many of the ingredients we use for breakfast from local producers and suppliers as we can and I spoke about how the ingredients can be more expensive for us, but it has benefits too which I’ve touched on above and in addition, sourcing our ingredients this way not only supports the local economy, we also know, by having a good relationship with the producer and supplier, where the product has come from, what’s in it, how it’s made and the welfare of the animal or plants along with being able to ensure the quality of what we are buying. The preserves & sauces we use to accompany the breakfasts are also produced locally from mostly home- grown fruits etc. We occasionally have a requirement when a guest arrives late and declares an allergy or a particular liking to something (we always ask about allergies etc when we check people in), to bolster our breakfasts with a trip to the supermarket. As well as sourcing our ingredients from local producers and suppliers, we also make our own items such as the Hash Browns, which are more like potato rostis , containing potato, onion, egg & seasoning which are part cooked and refrigerated until required, our Muesli contains 22 natural ingredients which are combined to be beneficial to your body, our fruit compotes are made with fruit, a touch of fruit juice and natural unrefined brown cane sugar which is reduced then refrigerated until required, we make some of our bread which is bolstered by a bakery during the busier times of year and is sliced by us which makes for chunky toast or bread for a sandwich or ‘soldiers’.
What ingredients do we use for our breakfasts?
Free Range Eggs (poached, fried, scrambled, boiled or as part of a Frittata), premium smoked and plain Bacon, 80% Pork Sausage, Vine ripened Tomatoes, tinned, chopped Tomatoes, flat Mushrooms, Heinz Baked Beans, Hash Brown, Black Pudding, smoked Salmon, smoked Haddock, Kippers, smoked Mackerel, Ham, Cheese, brown & white bread, Croissants, Wraps, Muffins, Muesli, Fruit Compote. We also have the ingredients to make pancakes when asked for.
First of all I’ll tell you about the setup of our kitchen. It has 3 surfaces to do any prep work, 8 rings, 2 grills, 2 ovens, an egg steamer, 2 kettles, a water boiler, 2 four slice toasters, dedicated pans for different ingredients/ cooking methods, a plate warmer and a commercial extractor fan. This setup makes it easier for us to cope with the variety of breakfast orders we have on the go at the same time although it can be manic when everyone arrives for breakfast at once. It’s also worth mentioning a few of the terms used in this article: *FULL ENGLISH: Wherever you stay could offer various versions of a full English but ours comprises of an 80% Pork Sausage grilled, Premium Bacon both smoked and plain grilled, a fresh Free Range Egg either poached, fried or scrambled, flat Mushroom grilled, 2 halves of a vine-ripened Tomato grilled (or tinned if preferred), Heinz Baked Beans and a homemade Hash Brown fried. Black Pudding is also offered as an addition. *KILBRANNAN SPECIAL: This is unique to us and is a popular choice of starter or main breakfast. It is made up when ordered and comprises our homemade Muesli, fat free natural Yoghurt and our homemade fruit compote put together in a tall sundae glass. *FRITTATA: Similar to an omelette but you can cook any ingredients you’d like first then add the beaten eggs, top with cheese if you want, then finish cooking under the grill. Some guests refer to this as a ‘posh omelette’. If time allows, I like to take the pan from the grill and straight into the dining room where I slide it onto the guest’s plate. Can’t get fresher than that! *PLOUGHMAN’S: Similar to a continental and named after a survey amongst guests. It comprises English cheeses, hams, warm croissants and our homemade fruit compote all presented on a board.
We don’t take any orders until guests are seated and have helped themselves to our array of cereals, homemade muesli, dried or fresh fruit, yogurts and fresh (not concentrated) fruit juices. The tea & coffee orders are taken first with 60% of couples wanting a pot of each we can get through quite a lot a water. Fresh, loose leaf tea and fresh ground coffee are the default hot drinks but occasionally we are asked for instant coffee, hot chocolate and milkshakes which are fine, or hot water for one of our fruit teas which are situated in the dining room. After the drinks orders are taken and delivered, we then ask each table what they would like for breakfast.
Breakfast job roles
We don’t have staff to help and so split the various things to do between Julie and myself as follows:
Julie: *fill and switch on water boiler *switch plate warmer on *set the tables up with milk, spreads, sugar etc *put juices and yoghurts onto cold tray in the dining room *Take all hot drinks and food orders *Fill tea and coffee pots *slice bread ready for sandwiches, soldiers and toasting *Slice Muffins ready for toasting *do the toasting *Assemble the ‘Ploughmans’ *Despatch all hot drinks and cooked food *portion out the smoked Salmon ready for an order *grate any cheese *satisfaction checks amongst the guests *clear the tables.
Gary: * Get kitchen ‘breakfast ready’ *control the incoming food orders *cook all food in some sort of order *record temperatures *dish out the completed breakfasts ready for despatch *wash up *clean all appliances, work tops, walls and floor. (the Kilbrannan specials we make up between us)
3 typical breakfasts in July
(stay with it, it’s quite intense)
It’s 10 minutes before breakfast time starts and both grills (1 for meat, 1 for veg) are fired up to enable them to reach the optimum temperature. The assortment of pans are put to hand and the main ingredients are close by. The work surfaces are clear of obstructions, the 2 kettles are switched on and the water boiler is at the ready. (This procedure is repeated daily). By the time I’ve got all this organised, Julie enters the kitchen with the first hot drinks order: 1 pot of tea and 1 pot of coffee. With the pots filled and despatched, I await the first breakfast order which arrives a minute or so later along with the next hot drinks order.
1 full English with black pudding, poached Egg & tinned tomato & 1 smoked Salmon with scrambled Eggs on toasted muffins. A fairly easy one to start with. The full English ingredients are cooked in order of cooking times with the all important temperature probe used on the Sausage and Julie prepares the muffins ready for the Eggs and salmon and the requested toast which we cut from a fresh loaf of bread. Whilst all of that is cooking to perfection the second order arrives: 1 Bacon, Mushroom and Cheese Frittata & 1 Kilbrannan Special followed by a full English with no Black Pudding, no Tomato with Fried Egg. The Kilbrannan Special is made up and despatched whilst keeping an eye on the first order’s cooking. The pan used for the Frittata is sprayed with low calorie oil, the grills are loaded with the next full English ingredients in order, then the bacon and Mushroom are cooking in the Frittata pan. The third order arrives just as the first order is being dished up: 1 Smoked Haddock with poached Eggs & 1 Bacon and poached Eggs on toast. The first order is despatched along with the toast and with the beaten Eggs added to the Frittata, sprinkled with Cheese and placed under the grill, the second order has 2 minutes to go. The pan used for poaching the Haddock is prepared and after adding the haddock its allowed to simmer away gently with butter. The bacon is placed under the grill and the poached Egg pan is still on the heat from the first and second orders. The second order is despatched along with the toast. Julie returns with more hot drinks orders and the fourth and fifth food orders: 1 Beans on toast & 1 Bacon sandwich then 1 Sausage, Hash Brown, Fried Egg, Mushroom & 1 Hash Brown, Beans, Mushroom, Tomato & Quorn Sausage (this sausage is cooked separately). The third order is despatched along with the toast. Julie returns to prepare the bread for the sandwich and the toast for the beans whilst the other ingredients are cooking. The fourth order is quickly despatched along with further toast and upon return, the fifth order is being dished up and is then swiftly despatch along with the toast. Julie remains in the dining room chatting and clearing any empty plates etc after the last order has been taken out and I like to go into the dining room to say good morning.
First order arrives: 1 Kilbrannan special followed by scrambled Egg and Bacon on toast & 1 fried egg, Bacon and Beans. The special is made up and despatched whilst the bacon is placed under the grill. Eggs and Beans are being cooked when order number two arrives: 1 full English, grilled Tomatoes, 2 fried Eggs and black pudding & 1 Ploughmans. The Ingredients are placed under the grills and whilst Julie is putting together the Ploughmans, the first order is being dished up and is despatched. Order number three arrives at Julie’s return: 1 toasted muffin topped with Mushroom, poached Egg and sprinkled with cheese & 1 Bacon, fried Egg and tinned Tomatoes with a slice of bread and butter. Order number two is dished up and despatched whilst the third orders ingredients are cooking. After a few minutes, order number four arrives just as I’ve dished up the third order: 1 full English, poached Egg, black pudding, no Tomatoes & 1 boiled Eggs with soldiers. The third order is despatched, and the next lot of ingredients goes on. It’s 10 minutes before the fifth order arrives which is plenty of time to get everything done on order number four which is promptly despatched: 1 medium porridge followed by Bacon, scrambled Eggs and Beans & 1 toast (many people ask for just toast for breakfast so they can try some of the great preserves we have without being too full).Porridge done (simply Oats, Milk, pan, Spurtle) and the Bacon is under the grill whilst the toast is being sorted. Bacon,Eggs and Beans done and despatched, time to say hello.
First order arrives: 1 pancakes & 1 scrambled Egg on toast & 1 bacon and poached Egg on toasted muffins & 1 smoked Salmon with scrambled Eggs on toasted muffins. The Bacon goes under the grill whilst the bread and muffins are toasting, and the pancake mixture is made. Order number two arrives as the order number one’s eggs are cooking, and the pancakes are almost ready: 1 full English with gluten free sausage (cooked separately) and fried Egg & 1 black pudding and scrambled Egg on toast. The first order is dished up and despatched. The second order’s ingredients are on when Julie arrives with order number three: 1 Eggy bread & 1 Poached Egg on toast. The mixture to soak the Eggy bread in is prepared and the bread is soaking away nicely. The poached Egg pan is still on the heat and the toast is being prepared. Order number two is complete, dished up and despatched and with the Eggy bread ready to cook, it’s only a couple of minutes away from being ready for despatch. Order number four arrives: 1 Kipper with the head on (we always ask whether you want the head removing) & 1 smoked Bacon, fried Egg, Mushroom and tinned Tomatoes. Order number three is despatched and the Kipper is poaching whilst the other items are cooking away. Order number five arrives: 1 Kilbrannan special & 1 Bacon, Mushroom and cheese Frittata. Order number four is complete, dished up and despatched, the special is made up and despatched and the Frittata is ready for me to deliver and say hello to everyone. Another breakfast done!
Each food order I receive in the morning is split down to ingredient level and entered onto a spreadsheet so we can monitor which are the most popular items and which items are less popular. These are the results of the last 3,000 breakfasts we’ve cooked for our guests:
81% of breakfasts include egg, of which 35% are poached, 31% are fried, 24% are scrambled, 6% make up some kind of Frittata and 4% are boiled (or rather steamed)
58% of breakfasts include bacon, 46% include sausage, 41% include baked beans, 38% include mushrooms, 37% include tomato, 36% include hash brown, 15% include black pudding.
14% of guests have a Kilbrannan special.
11% of breakfasts include fish, of which 45% are smoked Salmon, 39% are smoked Haddock, 10% are Kippers, 6% are smoked Mackerel.
13% of guests have something on toast, 7% have something on toasted muffins, 4% just have toast, 3% have some sort of sandwich, 1% have a tortilla wrap filled with anything they want.
3% of guests have a Ploughman’s, 2% have porridge, 3% have pancakes and 6% have cheese (usually on toast, in a Frittata, in scrambled egg or just sprinkled on top)
We also have special requests such as Eggy bread, vegetable breakfast kebabs, breakfast pizza and breakfast in a giant Yorkshire pudding!
Thank you for reading, it was a pleasure to write about how our breakfast keeps us busy and I hope you can see that B&B standards in this area have improved enormously.
Gary Smith, Kilbrannan Guest House, Great Yarmouth. (July 2019)