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Breakfast service - help!

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
Hi, I've been reading this forum for ages, but this is my first post. I'd really appreciate any help or advice you can give me.

Quick background: I recently graduated from bakery school (bread, confectionery, pastry etc) and scored myself a job at a local independent coffee shop. Currently my work consists of preparing sandwiches, salads and soups, but the plan has always been for the coffee shop owners to build a proper kitchen in one of their shops where I would be able to bake cakes, biscuits, savouries etc. All good. However, the owners would also like to offer hot breakfast service from the new kitchen. I have never done this. I have done a bit of restaurant staging and actually decided on the back of that that service cooking wasn't really my bag!

So, my question is, how do I make cooked breakfast service easy on myself? My feeling is I do the following:
- pre-cook bacon, sausages, mushrooms, tomatoes, hash browns and then reheat on a griddle for each order. Am I right in thinking that these could be used up to 3 days after cooking if refrigerated? (I'm in the UK, if that has any bearing on food hygeine stuff). My boss is very very anti-waste, so I need to minimise that as much as possible.
- cook eggs to order (poached, fried, scrambled). I don't really eat eggs, so I'll need to practice this a bit. Any tips?

Also, if anyone has any easy ideas for funky breakfast options, then I'd be really interested to hear them. We're going to have a lot of breakfast competition where we will be located, and I want to make sure we offer something really good and interesting.

This ended up a lot longer than I thought it would. Short version: how do you prep and cook hot breakfast service efficiently?

Thank you
post #2 of 10
Hi kittycook,

So far, that is exactly what I do at our coffee shop; hot breakfasts and light lunches.

IMHO, the way to do hot breakfasts is to cook to order. It may sound more difficult, but when you get a rhythm, it works beautifully.

My prep is basically: eggs (lots of them!) chilled as far as practical, which makes them easier to poach and they hold their shape better in a pan or on a grill. Bacon and hashbrowns (if they're frozen) I keep close by and on a tray of ice if its really hot.

Eggs can be a real pain sometimes, so finding a foolproof (mostly) way of doing then really helps. For poached eggs, I'd seriously recommend doing them in a large shallow pan instead of a deep pot. Check out Heston Blumenthal's video of poached eggs on YouTube, it dramatically makes them better.

We slice up mushrooms and throw in finely chopped parsley and garlic, then sauté them in butter; easy and delicious. This can also be done with whole mushrooms of course, but sliced obviously cooks quicker.

When looking at exciting dishes, keeping it simple may be the best way to go; depending on how much cooking space you have, of course. Eggs Benedict/Florentine etc can work quite well if you have a way of keeping the hollandaise sauce nice and emulsified. In a pan on a really low heat can work.

Try to get the manager to find the best baker around for bread: seriously, a good, thick sourdough makes all the difference.

Pretty much, keep all your ingredients close at hand, pans hot, and stay calm. Breakfasts can be a killer, but also fast paced and fun, so just keep cool.

Ps, how many others are cooking with you? Just yourself?

Hope this helps,

post #3 of 10
Thread Starter 
Hi Jaidyn

Thanks for responding - loads of useful information in there. Yes, it will just be me, and I'll be doing other tasks at the same time (mainly baking, I think....all these things are still to be worked out).

I will freely admit to being quite nervous about it - it's way outside my comfort zone (and has been sprung on me somewhat).

Re: bread, we get wonderful organic sourdough from a local bakery and will be sourcing our other ingredients (esp meat) from local organic suppliers.. I really love my new boss's commitment to quality ingredients, it makes all the difference.

Ah will certainly be an excellent learning experience, whatever happens!

Thanks again

post #4 of 10

As a former long time breakfast cook I'll offer these suggestions,

     Breakfast is no different than lunch or dinner. Good mise en place still applies. Have your act together when the doors open. 

Develop a site plan so all equipment and ingredients are always in the same place so you can reach for things without looking. 

    What will set your place apart more than anything is to get the customers' egg orders done correctly. If over easy is ordered, over easy is what should go out. A proper poached egg has a set white and warm, runny yolk. Practice with a couple dozen eggs to see how fast they cook so you can become proficient at knowing when the egg is at the proper stage. Pay attention to the heat of the pan and the behavior of the egg as it cooks. Too much oil, too hot and the egg whites will be browned and leathery. They should sizzle lightly, never browning on the underside.              

     While in the middle of service this can seem to take forever although it doesn't really. Keep yourself busy getting the plate together.  

When you flip an egg for over easy, no more than five seconds should be enough, then flip it back over for presentation. If the yolk breaks, do it over.  A proper omelet has few light brown spots at most. Browning the eggs toughens them. 

     As Jaidyn suggested a large shallow pan is best for poached eggs. You need the room to poach two or three orders at once with room to insert the utensil to remove them when done. A 12 inch pan is about right.  Add a bit of vinegar to the water to help the whites coagulate. Keep the pan at a low simmer, with more hot water handy to keep it topped off.  The eggs should take about 2 and a half minutes. A timer is very helpful to remind you as you will become easily distracted by doing all the other work. 

     When doing over easy or over medium, and an egg yolk breaks, have an extra metal bowl set nearby to toss the eggs in. If there is not too much coagulated white, the eggs can be set aside for the next order of scrambled. 

 Spend the money for good quality non stick pans or keep a metal pan well seasoned for flipping the eggs and making omelets. I am one of those who don't believe eggs cooked on the grill are proper omelets. 

    The most efficient order of operations is to drop the bread in the toaster first, have the hash browns ready, get the meats and fillings hot and ready and do the eggs last. As in dinner service, the plates should be warm. Assemble the plate, add the eggs and serve. 

     There are many cookbooks that offer great ideas for breakfast items. What you have in your pantry and how much you can spend on ingredients will be determining factors. Eggs go with just about anything. As an alternative to Eggs Benedict, change the english muffin to a grilled rice cake or a bed of beans, top with fresh greens of any kind, eggs and an appropriate sauce. Play around with the potatoes as well. Home fries, hash browns, shoestring french fries.  Stuffed french toast, waffles, etc. Whatever you come up with that the customers like and you can produce efficiently. Everything should be top quality and served correctly cooked.  

     You can be as creative with breakfast as you want, limited only by your space, equipment and imagination but I'll repeat my first statement. 

What will set you apart more than anything is making sure that every egg order is cooked as ordered. If the egg doesn't measure up, do not serve it. You will have to develop the ability to recover quickly and redo the eggs and it may seem wasteful and in the middle of service time consuming but eggs are affordable. Disappointing the customers with improperly cooked eggs is far more expensive in the long run.  Customers look first for whether or not the eggs are as ordered and will ignore the amazing ingredients you have paired them with. 

As during any service, keep your cool and remain focused. 

post #5 of 10

It will take some time to become proficient at egg cookery.

I would tap into your baking background and do quiche, strata, etc.

You could do scrambled egg dishes as opposed to omelettes, even scrambled eggs Benedict.

Precook bacon and sausage in oven, hold hot for service, or reheat as needed.

Once you are comfortable preparing the varied egg preparations you can open up your menu.

Nothing I hate worse than a well done over easy egg, or a cook that can't poach or baste an egg properly.

Good luck  :chef:

Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
post #6 of 10
Thread Starter 
Thank you, Chefwriter and Just Jim

I agree that the eggs are vital - I am almost always disappointed by scrambled eggs when I have breakfast out. I shall talk to the boss about equipment (he's talking about getting a griddle/hotplate, but it sounds like pans would be better) and also practice opportunity.

Lots to think about...

post #7 of 10
I LOVE working breakfast service. It can very challenging but really satisfying when you're in a groove. As stated above, it'll take quite a bit of practice to get your timing down and, perhaps more than any other meal, perfect timing is paramount. Eggs should be the last thing on the plate and out the door as fast as possible. They cool down extremely fast and if they sit under a warmer turn to trash. It really takes awhile to figure out when you need to start various kinds of eggs for a table in relation to each other (ie easy, medium, scrambled, poached) and have them come out within a few seconds of each other. For just about everything else I hate nonstick pans, but for eggs a few good 7 or 8 inch nonstick pans are essential. Get some good quality pans and don't use them for anything but eggs.

We cube and boil red potatoes and then cook to order on the flat top. Sausage is cooked to order as well. We parcook bacon in the oven and finish on the flat top, baking off only a pan or two of bacon at a time to keep it fresh and cut down on waste. If you do it in waves like this make sure you keep a close eye on how much is left because its a real bummer to reach for an order of bacon to finish and realize you're out. All eggs we do in pans except on weekends when we're slammed I'll pull out an inexpensive non stick griddle for EZ and medium eggs because we don't have enough burners. 300F or less. Go buy a case of eggs and spend an evening learning to flip them two at a time in the pan. I broke a lot of yolks before I could do this with confidence. For scrambles I like to sautee all veggies or other ingredients to order then remove them from the pan give it a wipe and renicorporate when the eggs are just about done cooking.

Cooking eggs is tricky. Ten seconds either way and they are shot. Practice and have fun.
post #8 of 10

I have always wanted to do breakfast service , but from i have seen you definetly need to have a groove , along with practice , just like any other service. 


But breakfast being the first meal of the day , is usually more faster paced i suppose.

Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.



Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.


post #9 of 10

How many seats?

People don't wanna wait for breakfast gotta have it out in 5 minutes to keep them happy.

I don't think the English are as finicky about accurate eggs which is a plus i.e. over light, over easy, over medium, over hard. simply cover sunny side ups with a basting cover. A griddle set to 225 farenheit is ideal in my opinion it will not leave stains on the eggs they will be perfect white all over.

I'd recommend precooking your poached eggs, poach them just undercooked, chill them in an ice bath, to pickup drop into simmering water, they also make egg poaching pans which are quite easy to use. Poaching eggs to order is easy for the first couple, you want the water just below simmering a very slight movement of bubbles on the bottom of the pan this movement will keep the eggs from sticking to the bottom. You can start with a fresh saute pan each time or use one big pot, but you'll have to change the water if you cook a lot of them they will break apart more the dirtier the water gets. Vinegar doesn't help there isn't a magic trick, it takes lots of practice.

Omelettes need to be done in a pan as I feel a grilled omelette is unacceptable in England. I like to start them in a medium hot pan just so the egg grips the pan when you put them in but they do not start to bubble, then shake the pan violently, this makes ripples in the egg which will give it thickness. a non stick pan is essential for this, you can finish them in a broiler, oven, or flip them over if you're feeling bold.

Scrambled eggs must be done in a pan, don't over stir as this drys them out and makes them crumby and difficult to eat.

Maybe consider rosemary roasted redskins for a breakfast potato? Very easy to pick-up in the oven.

Do a Texas Toast (or American Toast) thick cut white bread buttered and grilled. This is very popular in America and is often done with an egg rich bread similar to challah, making it especially crumbly and delicious.

Do people still eat fried bread?, my mom used to fry it in lard, makes your heart stop, but damn is it good.

Will you be serving a traditional English breakfast? Black pudding is a really good place to make your mark.


There is no easy way to do a good breakfast, its all in the pick up, talent shows and so does inexperience.


On the off chance you have access to an immersion circulator let me know I have a baller method to pre-poach them.

post #10 of 10
Thread Starter 
Thank you all for the advice. Thankfully it looks like breakfast service will be rolled out on a longer timescale (phew), once we've got everything else running smoothly in the new kitchen. All the info is very useful, and I will certainly be coming back to it when the need arises.

Oh, and yes...fried bread is still a thing, although in lard less so. And yes, great for the heart...biggrin.gif

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