A Kitchen Conversation

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Remembering Breakfast

By: Ted Robinson 

My alarm clock seemed confused last week when I set it for 5 a.m. Yes, last week I had a breakfast shift. That morning, even though it thought a mistake was being made, my alarm clock did go off at 5 a.m. I hit the snooze button but before I was able to get those last nine minutes of sleep, a rooster’s rude crowing woke me back up.

I was dreading this gig. I had been called upon to cook breakfast for villa visitors. It was their first day on St. John. They wanted an early breakfast because they were going to spend the day on a boat cruising the BVI.

What I remembered from my last breakfast shift, when I was 16, was grumpy people in a rush to eat before they trudged off to work. Those long ago morning shifts forever changed me as a chef — a change for the better. Until you cook a breakfast shift, at a high volume fast paced eatery, you have no idea.

I arrived at the villa before any guests were awake. I tied Meritage out front in the shade and brought the food I had already prepped and my cooking gear into the kitchen.

Most villa kitchens have aromas lingering from meals previously cooked and the tell tale signs of gatherings that have already taken place in them. Since these guests had arrived late the night before and gone straight to bed, this kitchen had none of that. It was a clean slate. My dreaded breakfast shift was begining to look up.

I got the oven going for the coffee cake and the applewood smoked bacon and set about brewing the coffee. Within a few minutes the first guest wandered into the kitchen. Sleepy looking and droopy eyed, he lit right up when he discovered he had not dreamt up the bacon.
Within 10 minutes all the guests had gathered in the kitchen. Thirty seconds after that, they were forcing me to join them for mimosas. This was far better than waking up to roosters.

As they ate they asked me many questions about myself. We could see the house I am building from their window, so we all looked at that. When the subject of dogs came up, I mentioned that mine was out front and they insisted I bring him in.

I was really liking this breakfast shift. The guests must have liked it too. They invited Meritage back to visit them every day they were going to be here. They also asked me to come back and cook for them every morning, and  dinner one night too.

My week cooking for these guys turned out great. They were hysterical. They never stopped teasing each other and joking around.
The night I cooked dinner for them was the night of the power outage. They took that in stride too. It had not taken these visitors long to embrace the notion of “No Worries.”

As I watched Meritage run alongside their car when the drove off, I realized how great it was to cook breakfast. Seeing people I just cooked for eager to face the day was a change for me. Dinner shifts end with the guests finished with their day and ready for bed.
Knowing that first morning that these guys were off for a day of too many painkillers, too much sun and probably a little too much fun I was glad they had had a full breakfast.

I had forgotten about breakfast. This experience reminded me that breakfast can be a great alternative to traditional dinner fare. It’s easy to cook, the ingredients are readily available and affordable.

Take a frittata for instance. It’s great in the morning with buttered toast and coffee. It’s also great with a salad and a glass of wine for dinner. And, since it’s easy to wrap up and take on the go, it’s great for a trip to the BVI.

 

When my breakfast shifts were all said and done with, Meritage and I were really looking forward to sleeping in. So it was quite a surprise when, with no alarm clock or rooster crowing, I woke up early.

I figured since I was up, I might as well make myself breakfast. I got the oven going and the coffee on. Within a few minutes Meritage wandered into the kitchen. Sleepy looking and droopy eyed, he lit right up when he discovered he had not dreamt up the bacon.