The creaking arteries breakfast.
You’ve probably been reading the same reports I have. The Ross and McMullen house, long the home of Picton Legion Branch 78, sold to a Toronto architect. It is to become an international culinary school.
Jonathan Kearns, the purchaser, already has a home in the County. He has culinary experience under his belt, having designed the George Brown College Centre for Hospitality and Culinary Arts and its associated Chefs House Restaurant. He obviously knows what he is doing. Yet, he says he has many decisions still to make and so he plans to proceed in phases.
His will not be the only cooking school in the County; there are at least two others, of which I am aware. So how will he carve out a niche? What will be “international” about the school: the students or the dishes? Will it focus on vegan or vegetarian cooking? Will it focus on locally sourced fare? We’ll just have to wait and see. Still, the good thing about having to wait is that there is time to offer Mr Kearns some unsolicited advice. As I will.
I have just one word for Mr. Kearns: breakfast. It’s the hottest trend in food right now; hotter than kale. McDonalds is relentlessly advertising all day breakfast service. A&W is keeping pace. Starbucks has breakfast items available all day. Tim Hortons is watching its rivals closely.
If I were opening a culinary school, the fastest road to success for my students would be to train them to make the best breakfasts they could and then drop them in the deep end. They would quickly join the short list for the coveted Golden Pancake award. The Canadian Breakfast Association bestows the aware, annually, for the best breakfast restaurant in Canada.
What could be more rewarding to a food consumer than to have a trained chef cook up his or her version of your typical “Hungry Man” breakfast special? Just imagine three, County raised, free-range eggs. Add local ham, sausages and big rashers of real bacon, all organic and natural, not industrial grade, topped off with three slices of real white toast, baked in the County, dripping with butter, imported from Stirling or Ivanhoe and served together with a crop of fresh cut home fries slathered with Wellington’s own mushrooms and County grown onions.
A slice of orange, available at the supermarket, could find its way onto the plate, carved into an artful piece of sculpture, to either cleanse the palate, or provide cover against those who would have a diner eat something healthier. All of this served with County roasted coffee, in bowls, Parisian style. To top it off, waitstaff could train in French, so that that instead of hearing the all too familiar call of “More coffee, hon,” the request might be, “Un peu plus de cafe, cheri?” I feel the frisson of excitement as I imagine the scene.
Even for a trained chef it would be a considerable challenge to serve up the best Hungry Man breakfast possible. That is just the beginning. What better way to hone your newly acquired skills than to produce as well French toast, crepes, omelettes and eggs Benedict, prepared to exacting standards? Pricing the fare might d be somewhat tricky, because your chefs in training may drop the occasional piece of eggshell in the scramble, but at the same time you wouldn’t want your prices so low that you drove local restaurants out of business. No doubt, that will sort out, with interference.
I hear you objecting already. If students are taught breakfast preparation to the exclusion of all else, they will never acquire any skill in making the gravies, sauces, soups, roasts, custards, eclairs and so on that have long been a necessary part of the repertoire of the trained chef. I say two things in rebuttal. First, you can’t ignore the strength of the demand for all day breakfast: it’s a 24/7 world, and even those who consider breakfast to be a little tub of yogurt dusted with a few chunks of granola will consider a Hungry Man breakfast as lunchtime or even suppertime food. Second, given the need for our new school to carve out its own niche, it’s a risk worth taking: besides, who has the time any more to linger over fancy meals anyway?
Good luck with the new school, Mr Kearns. To you would be chefs: if you win the Golden Pancake, I’ll pay my own way to come and cheer you on.
Some readers seem intent on nullifying the authority of David Simmonds. The critics are so intense; Simmonds is cast as more scoundrel than scamp. He is, in fact, a Canadian writer of much wit and wisdom. Simmonds writes strong prose, not infrequently laced with savage humour. He dissects, in a cheeky way, what some think sacrosanct. His wit refuses to allow the absurdities of life to move along, nicely, without comment. What Simmonds writes frightens some readers. He doesn't court the ineffectual. Those he scares off are the same ones that will not understand his writing. Satire is not for sissies. The wit of David Simmonds skewers societal vanities, the self-important and their follies as well as the madness of tyrants. He never targets the outcasts or the marginalised; when he goes for a jugular, its blood is blue. David Simmonds, by nurture, is a lawyer. By nature, he is a perceptive writer, with a gimlet eye, a superb folk singer, lyricist and composer. He believes quirkiness is universal; this is his focus and the base of his creativity. "If my humour hurts," says Simmonds,"it's after the stiletto comes out." He's an urban satirist on par with Mike Barnacle, the late Jimmy Breslin and Mike Rokyo and, increasingly, Dorothy Parker. He writes from and often about the village of Wellington, Ontario. Simmonds also writes for the Wellington "Times," in Wellington, Ontario.
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