For Mother’s Day this year, Kyle Hash wants to spoil moms “to the point their heads start to spin.”
It’s been a rough two years for families and restaurants alike, and he believes 2022 is a chance to make up for lost time at 28 North Gastropub, where he acts as executive chef.
“It’s an opportunity to celebrate very important people in a lot of people’s lives,” explains Hash of the Melbourne, Florida-based establishment. “Moms are often the unsung heroes in a lot of families, frequently ‘taken for granted’ whether intentionally or not, so it’s important we offer a menu that goes above and beyond.”
Hash is one of many chefs and/or operators across North America enthusiastic about the return of the busiest dining day of the year. And though the special occasion may look a lot different than in previous years, the fact that it’s back in dining rooms is a bright spot for many. Still, it’s a prime time for operators to pull out all the bells and whistles, something that Hash relishes. In previous years, 28 North Gastropub has been highlighted by local media for its Mother’s Day offerings, an honor Hash wishes to repeat.
“We hold ourselves to a high standard,” he says. “In an area where casual is the name of the game – with flip-flops everywhere – we offer some of the best quality ingredients of any of our competitors around, while also providing a pretty relaxed and comfortable atmosphere. It’s not stuffy or overbearing.”
Brunch, he continues, is the focus because it’s the bulk of business at 28 North Gastropub on Mother’s Day. Specials change annually to keep it interesting for guests and staff.
“We usually offer something a bit indulgent, almost like dessert for breakfast, and something a bit lighter and refreshing, possibly a quiche, frittata of some sort, or a well-composed salad. Often, what’s in season is the jumping-off point for a lot of our menus and specials.”
Strawberries, for example, are in their prime this time of year. Markon offers a few strawberry-forward recipes to consider as inspiration: For those looking for lighter bites, put your spin on the Baby Spinach Salad with Strawberry-Balsamic Vinaigrette, Whole Wheat Pancakes with Fresh Fruit, or a simple Spring Mix Salad with Sliced Strawberries. And for a bit of decadence, try making the Vanilla Maple French Toast with Fresh Fruit.
With talk of Mother’s Day returning to dining rooms, there is concern that the big occasion will put additional pressure on already labor-challenged establishments. Nevertheless, Hash is up for the task.
“I don’t think it puts any more pressure on our staff than normal,” he asserts. “Yes, specials will need to be remembered/prepped, but we try to hold ourselves to a high enough standard that when an ‘event day’ comes around like this, it’s easier to rise to the occasion.”
For Nehru Natkunam, however, Mother’s Day brunch at his establishment will be pared down this year – if it takes place. The hesitation is mostly because the restaurant only reopened in February after being closed for almost two years. The occasion is the busiest time of the year at Grill 55 in the Holiday Inn & Suites in Windsor, Ontario – with three seatings of 90 guests each.
As Natkunam comes closer to deciding, from what to serve to how many employees he’ll need for the day, one thing is certain: There will only be one seating.
“We have always been swamped, which is why we’ve needed three seatings,” explains Natkunam, who serves as executive chef of the high-volume restaurant. “So, if we wind up doing brunch this year, I want to take it easy on my staff with the one seating and make it simpler than in years past.”
Those tentative plans include an abbreviated menu, fewer carving stations, and a decreased price for guests. The buffet will likely feature signature dishes like vegetarian pastas, salads, lasagna, roast beef, roast chicken, and seasonal vegetables. He also intends to concentrate on the omelet station, the most popular attraction during brunch, by having three cooks man it.
“It’s so busy,” he says, “and customers may order whatever they like because there are plenty of vegetables from which to choose.
“Lately, more customers like vegetables [for their omelets]. I guess because they’re trying to be healthier they’re choosing more vegetables over meat in their omelets.”
For a seasonally fresh version of this beloved egg dish, Markon recommends adding spring vegetables and luxurious cheese. The chef-inspired Leek Asparagus Omelet, for example, offers verdant, pronounced flavor profiles.
According to Nicholas Gonring, the Corporate Consulting Chef for Gordon Food Service (overseeing its North American culinary department), while buffets are easier to execute for Mother’s Day brunch, new sanitary guidelines must also be in place to ensure safety for all. He recommends putting staffers in place to avoid from having guests touch serving utensils.
He also suggests creating “action” stations so that the buffet lines don’t feel like run-of-the-mill cafeteria lines.
“Consider adding different levels of experience through the restaurant rather than a full buffet,” recommends Gonring. “For example, having an action station that’s positioned as part of the experience, such as someone making crepes with the option to add fresh ingredients.”
Markon’s take on crepes ranges from sweet to savory and are prime to liven up any Mother’s Day brunch buffet. For example, consider these globally inspired versions, plus recipes for Honey Buckwheat Crepes with Citrus Compote and Spinach Crepes with Scrambled Eggs and Smoked Salmon.
Unique crepe stations or other experiential ideas like tableside accents are ways to make your Mother’s Day brunch stand out, says Gonring.
“All those table touches are super important,” he says. “Pour a complimentary glass of wine or pour a signature sauce over an entrée. It doesn’t take a lot of skill set to do small things that are eye-openers for most people.”
Markon Cooperative, Inc. brings a fresh approach and thinking to all of its premium farm-to-table produce so foodservice operators can bring the freshest ideas to their consumers. Based in Salinas, California, Markon serves as the produce purchasing, logistics, information, and marketing partner for its five member distributors (Ben E. Keith Foods, Gordon Food Service, Gordon Food Service Canada, Nicholas & Company, and Shamrock Foods) and their North American foodservice customers. Learn more about Markon’s commitment to providing the highest-quality, safest, and freshest produce at Markon.com.