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Opening a B&B

post #1 of 34
Thread Starter 

We are opening a B&B in the next couple of months, and I am looking for some menu inspiration. Anyone have ideas to share? Thanks!

post #2 of 34

All my life I wanted to open one but by the time I got enoung funds to do it I was to up in years. All I can tell you is  KEEP IT SIMPLE  Do what you do best. Don't skimp on quality. Limited menu with few entrees, salads and desserts  ALL HOME MADE, ALL GOOD.  Let the guest leave raving about the place and your food and service and cleanliness.  and they will tell others, this is you best advertising, and its free. Good Luck To You

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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post #3 of 34
Thread Starter 

Great advice, Chef. Thank you!
 

post #4 of 34
B&B, eh? Are you asking for breakfast suggestions only? Or are you planning a lunch and/or dinner restaurant as part of your operation?

The best restaurant at which we've recently eaten was the Restaurant at the Mirabelle Inn. The Mirabelle is a B&B in the sense that breakfast is included, but the restaurant does a fantastic, high-end, wine-country dinner.

The first thing you've got to do is decide on the niche(s) you want to occupy. Why don't you give us some idea of what you want to do, what your B&B is like, what resources you have for the restaurant, your ambitions as a chef (or if you already have one), and so on?

At this stage, I neither agree nor disagree with Ed's advice. Your best course depends on so many things... So, let's talk.

BDL
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post #5 of 34
Thread Starter 

Hi BDL, This is a new experience for me. I consider myself an above average home cook, and have a lot of great breakfast dishes under my belt, but am always looking for advice and guidance.

We are purchasing an existing B&B, which currently does not offer breakfast; the owner provides a coupon for his guests at the restaurant in town. So I am starting from scratch. There are no dishes, linens, cookware - it's a blank canvas. It is in rural CA, with plenty of farmer's markets around, but honestly, I'm more than a little nervous about the whole thing. We are relocating there; so I am not even familiar with the grocery/food service providers in the area. We arrive June 20, with an opening date of July 1. Yikes!

We are planning on serving breakfast only; a happy hour is also on our radar, but I am planning on cheese/crackers that will be simple, at least until I get comfortable with my breakfast menus. There are seven rooms, so the maximum guests I will need to serve is 14.

My vision is to serve breakfast using the wonderful local fresh ingredients, including a variety of fresh fruits and breads. I am planning on switching between a sweet and savory offering every other day.

Thank you for any advice you have in advance.

 

gedeb

post #6 of 34

Wow.  Sounds like quite an undertaking, wish you the best.

 

Rural California covers a lot of ground.   You might consider developing a signature quiche.  Near the ocean?  Shrimp, scallops, crab.  Maybe artichoke, spinach, asparagus?  Any local artisan hog farmer, creamery available?  Perfect some form of breakfast potatoes, brush up on making hollandaise to order.  Any chance of an on site garden with basil, rosemary, sage, etc. available?

 

Sorry, more questions than answers.

 

mjb.

Food nourishes my body.  Cooking nourishes my soul.
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Food nourishes my body.  Cooking nourishes my soul.
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post #7 of 34
Thread Starter 

hi mjb,

there is already a rosemary bush on premises; I'm planning on planting an herb garden asap, so I will have them soon. A rosemary bush! I'm so excited. I usually pay through the nose for rosemary!

Good thoughts on the quiche and hollandaise sauce; I'll start practicing.
 

post #8 of 34

Get hold of a good Popover recipe.  They make a great change from the normal breakfast breads and can easily be modified using different herbs and/or grated cheeses.  My wife and I have explored many, many B&B's and have had many great breakfast experiences, with all types of service, from serve yourself continental breakfasts to baskets delivered to our rooms to multi course affairs.  But one of my favorite memories were the rosemary popovers that were served at one place.

http://www.onceachef.com/ is my personal blog where I share many recipes, my passion for cooking, and all things food.
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http://www.onceachef.com/ is my personal blog where I share many recipes, my passion for cooking, and all things food.
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post #9 of 34

Warm, fresh baked rosemary popovers, sweet, ripe melon, red grapes and something like a Humboldt Fog on the cheese board.  I know what I want for breakfast tomorrow.

 

 

Too bad it ain't gonna happen.  I might whip up some biscuits, though.

 

mjb.

Food nourishes my body.  Cooking nourishes my soul.
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Food nourishes my body.  Cooking nourishes my soul.
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post #10 of 34
Thread Starter 

hi mjb,

there is already a rosemary bush on premises; I'm planning on planting an herb garden asap, so I will have them soon. A rosemary bush! I'm so excited. I usually pay through the nose for rosemary!

Good thoughts on the quiche and hollandaise sauce; I'll start practicing.
 

post #11 of 34

As I said before and now knowing you really are not a pro chef and will have so many other things to do in such a short timeframe  In beginning KEEP IT SIMPLE. As you gain experience in this venture and dealing with the public you can do more.

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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post #12 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by gedeb View Post

 We arrive June 20, with an opening date of July 1.

 

 

Hmmmm So you bought a B&B with out one of the B's? Does that mean you paid half price?  ;)

I think your going to have your hands full just opening in that time frame with out worrying about the breakfast aspect. I doubt you can even pull permits or get health inspections that fast in many areas. Once you get to the point of B'fast I'd re-iterate what Ed said. Keep it simple. Start with a continental b'fast and work your way into it.

Best of Luck with the new venture.

 

Dave

I think the most wonderful thing in the world is another chef. I'm always excited about learning new things about food.
Paul Prudhomme
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I think the most wonderful thing in the world is another chef. I'm always excited about learning new things about food.
Paul Prudhomme
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post #13 of 34

I would let the location of the B&B inspire the menu. I would expect a different on the Coast of Oregon, than I would at Jackson Hole Wy. This is also a great way for you to introduce local fruits, vegetables and local dish's, breads, and other fresh baked items. As all the others have said, start out slow, be good at what you do, be humble, learn from your mistakes. ..............ChefBillyB

post #14 of 34

i respectfully disagree with some as i think you need to hit the ground running when you open, which means serving breakfast of some sort. it's half of what you are, half of what people expect and part of what they're paying for. sending them down the street is sending them away....sending them away first thing in the morning...oy! i just don't think you want to start off by making excuses. since you are the new proprietors you will want to separate yourselves from what was done before i would think. trip advisor, yelp and internet access being what they are you will want to be running on all cylinders. besides, people love breakfast!  you don't have to serve a fancy pants fully cooked 'grand slam' breakfast to start...breakfast breads(zucchini, banana etc,) ,fresh fruit from local farmers, housemade granola,good yogurt, brioche, scones, muffins, all with locally made jams, preserves, honey.  steel cut oats with condiments are a must these days, especially for anyone over 50. perhaps a specialty item that ties into something grown only in your region (example) in arizona mesquite pancakes with prickly pear or saguaro syrup is big. stratas, baked french toast and quiches can all be made the day before. fritattas and omelets made with locally grown vegetables, eggs and cheeses goes a long way...anything local and/or organic is a winner. maybe a signature dish further down the road. better than good coffee, ideally from a local roaster, and good teas. i prefer my tea in a china cup with saucer and think most women do as well. go antiquing for china or a good thrift store or a restaurant supply house. even target has some wonderful choices.  i know that you have a thousand things in your book of lists, now you have a thousand and ten! ok, that's all i got for now

joey

sorry, meant to say in all this....if it were I


Edited by durangojo - 5/29/12 at 12:57pm

food is like love...it should be entered into with abandon or not at all        Harriet Van Horne

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food is like love...it should be entered into with abandon or not at all        Harriet Van Horne

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post #15 of 34

I'll agree with most people here; keep it simple, keep it local, execute it perfectly, present it exceptionally.  Offer maybe 4 breakfast items in addition to hot and cold cereals, fruit, muffins etc.  Offer squeezed-to-order orange juice, house-roasted (if you can) coffees and homemade yogurt/cottage cheese.  Offer tea, but not teabags.  Use whole-leaf tea, served in a proper pot.  People remember the little things, and it'll keep them coming back for years...and even if they don't end up coming back, they'll mention it to friends who will visit you because you paid attention to the tiny details.

 

@Jo: Not just women prefer their tea in a china cup with saucer, wot! :)

post #16 of 34
It depends on your location, what you're trying to offer and what kind of clientele you get, but most of the successful B&Bs at which we've stayed offer a few staples which are on the menu everyday, and a rotating and seasonal daily "special."

If you're going relatively high-end, your daily selection MUST include at minimum a selection of very good baked goods, along with excellent quality butter and jams; a few cold cereals; perhaps a hot meal such as real (as opposed to quick good or "instant") oat meal; fresh fruit, fruit juices (preferably fresh), eggs in several styles, with at least one pork product (high-end bacon, "gourmet" sausage, or high-end ham); a few, common omelet choices; at least one "Benedict" style offering per week; and perhaps pancakes, waffles or French toast. On your part -- or your cooks, that's going to require a lot of expertise with eggs.

If you're going to do it yourself, buy some 8", 10" and 12" carbon steel pans start practicing to the point where you can reliably make fried eggs to any degree of doneness without breaking the yolks, and make a good, folded (aka "country style") omelet without under or over-cooking the eggs. You should also master soft (French style) and well done scrambled eggs.

In addition you should offer a rotation of egg-based specials such as omelets, stradas, quiche, at least one "Benedict;" and pancakes, waffles or French toast. The number of different dishes in your rotation repertoire should at least be sufficient so a typical guest's stay doesn't involve any repetition. I'd choose seven -- one each omelet, strada, quiche, Benedict, pancake, waffle, and French toast, duh!; alternating the eggs with the griddle specials; and allowing for some seasonal variation -- and let it go at that.

If you're going "high-end" you've got to restrict yourself to the highest quality ingredients. That may seem obvious, but it isn't. It means NEVER cheaping out, no matter how attractive that might seem during a bad month; it means throwing out stuff that gets old; and it means shopping in more than one place -- a lot more than one place. I suggest focusing on the ingredients, not only in terms of "what to purchase," but also in terms of restricting your culinary point of view to "best quality ingredients, simply prepared, and not screwed up." That's probably the best of all possible culinary viewpoints, and identities and it's worth the effort.

Also, if you want specific advice, you should be as specific as possible in terms of location, prices and anything else you can think us which will help us get a handle on what you're actually trying to do. You're still very stingy in terms of handing out information. Why is that?

BDL
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post #17 of 34

Just keep it simple.  The best B&B's I've been to offer all local seasonal ingredients.  You don't need a large variety in the beginning.  Cover your bases with the easy stuff (cereals, teas, coffee, honey, jams, breads muffins and scones from a local bakery, fruit salad, yogurt etc.) that you can have set out in a buffet for help-yourself service and then offer up one savoury egg dish and one sweet dish a la minute.  Don't forget the breakfast potatoes and good bacon ham or sausage to go with it. 

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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post #18 of 34
Quote:
The best B&B's I've been to offer all local seasonal ingredients.
Easy to say, but it means something different in California than in New York or Virginia. Seasonality here is problematic and, while "local" is good when possible, it also can be very problematic outside of a few areas. In fact, if you want a really broad array of seasonal, and local ingredients, you're pretty much restricted to the greater Bay Area and wine country.

I think those are laudable goals, but must be tempered with practicality, quality and cost.

Mostly what we have here are some ethnic concentrations which make for some local twists in food style. For instance, in the southern end of the Central Coastal Valleys Appellation (Santa Barbara, Santa Ynez, Lompoc, Santa Maria, etc.) you're going to find some pretty strong Mexican influences -- going all the way back to Californio days; but at the Northern end that dissipates in favor of other influences, like Italian and Basque. But, in most places, the products -- at least the local products to create anything like an ordinarily comprehensive breakfast menu -- just aren't there.

Another thing to consider is that breakfast isn't quite the same thing as dinner. The popular breakfast choices tend to be more consistent and less regionally driven. Good eggs ARE local, but good bacon and potatoes can come from just about anywhere without detracting from a restaurant's identity. Similarly, when you go to buy an avocado, you go for the most perfect and best ripened fruit possible; locality or even nationality simply aren't that important.

BDL
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post #19 of 34

just baked cinnamon buns...god the smell of them baking drives people into a frenzy! different 'benedicts' i.e. florentine, smoked salmon, tenderloin etc....maybe twisting the hollandaise to match

@rbandu....sorry, didn't mean to imply that men were neanderthals...i just like china tea cups, actually for both coffee and tea....and yes, you are right on when you say loose leaf tea in pots.

@bdl....i believe the new proprietor did mention that it was in a part of rural california with lots of farmer's markets. i do think that supporting the local farmers and ranchers carries a lot of

           weight not only with the clientele but with the locals as well, more especially if it's a small rural community. it immediately makes you a part of it 

@gedeb....although good cooking is essential, more importantly is putting all the right pieces together...... being nervous is a good thing...use it to your advantage and make it work for you.

                just curious, where are you relocating from...out of state? down the road? other coast?           

joey

food is like love...it should be entered into with abandon or not at all        Harriet Van Horne

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food is like love...it should be entered into with abandon or not at all        Harriet Van Horne

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post #20 of 34

.


Edited by RBandu - 5/30/12 at 10:37am
post #21 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by gedeb View Post

We are opening a B&B in the next couple of months, and I am looking for some menu inspiration. Anyone have ideas to share? Thanks!

Well the easiest thing to do is take a look at other restaurants that are similar to yours and see what food and beverage choices they carry.

post #22 of 34
Thread Starter 

@durangojo  -- We are moving from Illinois to California, so a big change for us.  Thanks for your advice!
 

post #23 of 34

sorry, i didn't notice where you were from earlier, but since you're moving from illinois i would definitely pack a 'big' butterfly net....biggest one you can cram into your car.... maybe a big syringe or two, too!...best of luck in this new and exciting adventure in a most beautiful state.... please keep us posted somewhere down the line if possible....and, safe travels.

joey


Edited by durangojo - 6/6/12 at 7:29pm

food is like love...it should be entered into with abandon or not at all        Harriet Van Horne

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food is like love...it should be entered into with abandon or not at all        Harriet Van Horne

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post #24 of 34

i agree that keeping it simple is very important, people should feel like they stayed the night in your home, which they did. having a delicious, well presented, homestyle breakfast will be what will impress your guests as well as waking up to the smell of fresh baking and coffee. after opening bed and breakfasts most people realize it's the most work they've ever done in their lives but it also can be very rewarding. the interesting people you will meet and seeing them leave happy is a great feeling and remember that breakfast is your last opportunity to impress them. i would also suggest installing commercial equipment because preparing meals for 14 on a home stove could be a nightmare for you.

post #25 of 34

Not to worry, that's certainly a doable thing even at maximum occupancy.  I would say that although your plans are ambitious, you'll be able to pull it off with a pretty short integration time frame.  Think about it, you'll be making breakfast for a few extra people.  I agree in keeping it simple but moreover if the situation were to allow, get up very early, collect fresh ingredients from the local markets and/or garden if you have one and in no time flat you should be able to work out an ever-changing menu and as time goes on you'll become familiar with what is available and when.  When you start, if numbers are close to max occupancy, fall back to the most simple, easily expandable offerings.  Fresh fruit, local yogurt, fresh made granola mix and a wisp of mint for garnish is a great addition when you want to add something that is easy and helps showcase what you have locally. Use the lower occupancy days to test your creativity and new ideas.

 

Get lots of feedback from your guests and by all means listen to them, obviously discarding anything that isn't helpful to truly improving your method. Stick with what you know for now, experiment on yourself when the opportunity presents itself.  Breakfast is good any time of day :D.  Get that herb garden rolling and consider some small raised bed boxes if you can.  Even with running a B&B that should be more than manageable...assuming you enjoy it...if not stay far away from that aspect as it is, at the end of the day, work.  Hands down you should be able to pull off even a fried egg better than most commercial places, especially if you have farm fresh eggs.  

 

Speaking of which, if you can have them, half a dozen to a dozen hens would be a very good starting point if you are allowed to have them where you are.  Chickens aren't tons of work to be honest as long as you get recommended breeds for where you live (and even then it's not a terribly big deal).  I say this because it's very helpful to the overall image of your B&B....assuming you would want to go that route.  Just plan well for them and give them a safe, separate area.  Poach or fry one or two of those eggs,some homemade english muffins, local bacon, good coffee, juice, etc and you'll already be head-and-shoulders above most offerings.  Don't look to compete with other B&B's just yet.  Find your niche.  I hope my ramblings are useful :D

post #26 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by zoebisch View Post

 

Speaking of which, if you can have them, half a dozen to a dozen hens would be a very good starting point if you are allowed to have them where you are.  Chickens aren't tons of work to be honest as long as you get recommended breeds for where you live (and even then it's not a terribly big deal).  I say this because it's very helpful to the overall image of your B&B....assuming you would want to go that route.  Just plan well for them and give them a safe, separate area. 

zoe, 

while the visual of beautiful hens clucking and strutting around a B&B courtyard may seem picturesque and the thought of farm fresh eggs delicious, there as always is, the flip side......literally,foxes in the henhouse...hens may as well have a bullseye tatooed on their pretty little heads. where there are hens, there are critters after them..foxes, skunks, racoons, sometimes even bigger, badder predators like mountain lions or bob cats depending on your location. if guests are allowed to bring their pooches, some breeds(like retrievers) will absolutely paralyze the chicks. the guest ranch i worked on the past two winters started this winter out with 18 beautiful, healthy, egg laying, clucking hens....down to 4 now. same thing happened last year. it was not only heart breaking to witness, but the clean up was gut wrenching(in more ways than one).  attracting critters like racoons is not something you want to do. you will never get rid of them and they will destroy your gardens and plants(the racoons, not the hens).  feeding them is not the problem...they eat prep and table scraps mostly. the problem is keeping them safe and to not attract other things that go bump in the night!  chefbubba raises beautiful 'girls' and can certainly tell you better than i exactly what is involved....but i so agree...farm fresh eggs are the bomb!  the color of omelets and frittatas is something to behold for sure...

joey

food is like love...it should be entered into with abandon or not at all        Harriet Van Horne

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food is like love...it should be entered into with abandon or not at all        Harriet Van Horne

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post #27 of 34

I think you should look at your location and always serve according to the season.  I am a firm believer in using locel  and seasonl fruits and vegetables in cooking and it would be a great way to make your B&B more a home environment.  Maybe change the menu seasonally.  Do keep it simple though, and be true to you cooking style and roots.  Good luck.  

post #28 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by durangojo View Post

zoe, 

while the visual of beautiful hens clucking and strutting around a B&B courtyard may seem picturesque and the thought of farm fresh eggs delicious, there as always is, the flip side......literally,foxes in the henhouse...hens may as well have a bullseye tatooed on their pretty little heads. where there are hens, there are critters after them..foxes, skunks, racoons, sometimes even bigger, badder predators like mountain lions or bob cats depending on your location. if guests are allowed to bring their pooches, some breeds(like retrievers) will absolutely paralyze the chicks. the guest ranch i worked on the past two winters started this winter out with 18 beautiful, healthy, egg laying, clucking hens....down to 4 now. same thing happened last year. it was not only heart breaking to witness, but the clean up was gut wrenching(in more ways than one).  attracting critters like racoons is not something you want to do. you will never get rid of them and they will destroy your gardens and plants(the racoons, not the hens).  feeding them is not the problem...they eat prep and table scraps mostly. the problem is keeping them safe and to not attract other things that go bump in the night!  chefbubba raises beautiful 'girls' and can certainly tell you better than i exactly what is involved....but i so agree...farm fresh eggs are the bomb!  the color of omelets and frittatas is something to behold for sure...

joey


Indeed, that's kind of the "safe separate area" is what I meant by that.  And even then it's not a guarantee against raptors!

post #29 of 34

It was mentioned to use pastries (scones) from a local baker.  Any chef knows that biscuits and scones are the easiest and cost effective things to make.  Scones are also easy to change, different flavors, sweetened with citrus rinds, raisins, currants, fresh berries, or savory with herbs and spices and cheese.  I think the biggest thing you have to do it find good basic recipes and prepare them over and over until you have them down where they come out consistant.  From there you can play with the flavors  Same with egg dishes, master your preparation of omelet, both classic french and country, proper scrambled eggs, the degrees of fried eggs, poached, quiche, etc.  Once you master the basics, it's endless with the flavors you can add.  Fresh fruit and berries, make a fresh compote or sauce every morning.  French toast, you can do plain with just vanilla or add a touch of cinnamon, nutmeg, orange zest, then sauce with fresh warm blueberry sauce ( blueberries, sugar, squeeze of lemon and  lemon or orange zest and simmer for 10 minutes or so). There are so many possibilities.  As they have said in previous posts, utilize local produce, eggs, meats, wine, etc.  You can offer for drinks, fresh juice with wine for refreshing morning drinks.

I'm in my third year at culinary school and hope to open a B&B out on my house in the years to come.  I plan on offering breakfast and possibly dinner, with items that are TRUE cajun/creole.  I'd also like to offer a little cooking class to guests interested in any items on the menu.  It's a way to keep my family culinary traditions alive.  If there are any culinary traditions to your area here is the platform to present them.

Best of luck!

post #30 of 34
Thread Starter 

Thank you to all that have responded. I have taken your suggestions to heart, and I really appreciate your words of wisdom.

To update, I've been cooking for about 3 weeks now; I have a couple of solid signature dishes, including rosemary popovers, crepe squares, granola, and baked eggs with goat cheese and fresh herbs. I've found one local farmer's market, so there have been plenty of fresh fruit and veggies to use in scones, muffins, quiches, frittatas. The tricky part is timing. We serve breakfast from 8:30-9:30, and if I'm not making a dish to order, I'm having trouble holding some of my favorite casseroles, and having them look and taste as fresh at 9:15 as it did at 8:30. But I'm learning as I go along!

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