The following guest post is by Andrea Hundley, a B&B owner and blogger at bedandbreakfastbusiness.org.
If you are like me, there are several weekends a year that I know I’m going to have a big crowd for breakfast. The trick on these days is to make something that is: 1) delicious, 2) easy, 3) can be prepared mostly ahead of time and 4) inexpensive.
I’m going to start with the last criteria first: inexpensive. Unlike a lot of B&Bs, I almost never serve a continental breakfast. I have found that when I do, people ALWAYS put more on their plate than they will eat, and I end up having to prepare twice as much food. I also find that more is wasted because you don’t want your serving table to look empty. I serve a plated breakfast. I always offer seconds, but I have found over the years that there is much less food thrown in the trash with a plated meal.
I’ve also found that the more choices people have on a continental breakfast, the more people I get who ask, “Do you have any of this?” which is always something that I don’t have. For example, I serve a continental breakfast with four choices including scones, yogurt, homemade granola, fresh fruit. Inevitably when I do this I have someone ask for something they don’t see, like bagels. They are much less likely to ask this if they see you passing out plates of french toast, bacon, and fresh fruit where everyone is getting the same thing.
For large groups, it is even more important to make something that is pretty easy to prepare, because you will almost always have an audience (unless your kitchen is off limits). You will want to make it something that you can prepare without thinking and something that is well-tested in your kitchen. Have you ever made something that turned out just so-so? You don’t want this to happen when you have ten potential reviewers sitting at the table.
Can Be Made Ahead
I like to prepare main dishes that can be made ahead of time. This gives me time to spend the morning of setting up the coffee, cutting fresh fruit, and cooking the meat. I normally use one of my go-to stratas or baked French toast recipes. I have four to five that I have made countless times, and I know they are good because people have asked for the recipe. These can be made the night before and baked in the morning. This takes a lot of the pressure off of cooking for a large group and gives you time to visit with guests without feeling the stress of getting the food out.
Last but not least, it has to be something delicious enough that it has mass appeal. This is a matter of opinion, BUT these are the breakfasts that have worked for me:
• Crème Brulee French toast, bacon, broiled grape fruit (which is a surprising hit every time).
• Mexican strata with roasted turkey, corn, green chili and cheese. I serve this with cinnamon rolls and fruit
• Stuffed french toast (stuffed with cream cheese and marmalade), sausage and fruit
• Quiche. I like caramelized onions and cheese. I usually serve this with a sweet bread like pumpkin or lemon bread and a meat. Quiche is nice because it can be held well in a warm oven.
I have not had as much luck with serving pancakes to large groups, but a baked French toast is ideal.
If you have ideas about how to serve a big group, we would love to hear them!