Hugo Woolley – former chef and restaurateur – has run restaurants in London, sandwich shops in the City and a specialist sausage business in Kent and Sussex. Now in charge of Woodlands B&B in Cornwall with his wife, Pippa, they have been very busy with breakfasts recently – Hugo writing about them and Pippa cooking them for hundreds of appreciative guests.
Today, Hugo shares his thoughts with us on the downward slide of breakfast at UK B&Bs.
How many customers go to a B&B for a jolly good breakfast? I would say most of them!
We all know that large hotels serve buffet-style breakfasts to cater for the vast volume of people– mostly on business. For a breakfast aficionado, like me, I like a good quality breakfast with eggs cooked to perfection, so I avoid hotel breakfasts and go out to a nice café/coffee bar or restaurant who offer a lovely freshly cooked breakfast.
B&Bs, however, are smaller than hotels and can cook a wonderful breakfast to order. We, in the UK, are well known for producing a great breakfast, be it a full cooked breakfast - a Full English, Welsh, Cornish or Scottish or an ‘Ulster Fry’ – or kippers, or smoked haddock with a proper, lightly poached egg on top. When we are away on holiday, we all expect this level of breakfast, don’t we? And we know the best place to get this kind of service is a B&B or guest house.
When I was making enquiries about B&Bs in London and the South East recently, I was surprised and disappointed to find a marked lack of B&Bs that offer a ‘proper’ breakfast.
They proudly proclaim that a ‘Continental’ breakfast is served in the morning. I say, I am not ‘Continental’ but an Englishman looking forward to a lovely juicy, locally produced sausage, a lightly smoked rasher of bacon – the type that does not have watery white foam oozing out of it – a beautifully freshly crafted creamy scrambled egg, a tomato, possibly a grilled field mushroom. Even a slice or two of black pudding or Cornish Hogs Pudding, a Scots Potato Scone or an Irish Boxdy Griddle Cake would be nice.
In New England in the United States, B&Bs – or Inns as some of the smaller hotels call themselves – have a culture of who produces the best breakfast for their guests. They compete with each other, proudly stating on their websites their homemade, home produced, wholemeal, home smoked breakfasts, their signature breakfasts, their healthy breakfasts, their most unusual breakfasts. And they write books about their breakfasts.
At the moment, I think the only breakfast books that are published in the UK are mine (B&B: The Book of Breakfast & Brunch) and The Breakfast Book from The Wolseley Restaurant in Piccadilly. Just Google ‘Breakfast Book’ and you will see what I mean – it is such a shame.
So, stand up for the great British breakfast; don’t just offer a fluffy French pastry with packet jam, with a few slices of cold ham and some cheese – a ‘Continental breakfast’ – at your B&B. Serve up sausage and bacon – ask your butcher where the sausage is made and if it is local. Use local yoghurt, homemade jams and be proud of your breakfasts. And then have your breakfast menu boldly displayed on your website – and wait for the customers to roll up.
Remember, there is nothing better than a good British breakfast; whoever has heard of an ‘All Day Lunch’!
Iif you need more inspiration to create a fantastic breakfast menu, order a copy of Hugo Woolley’s book on Breakfast and Brunch – called simply ‘B&B’ – or read BnB Edition’s review of this fantastic resource for bed and breakfast owners.
Category: Industry Experts