Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Competitive Innkeeping - And the Winner is...

Yesterday, we attended the New England Conference of the Professional Association of Innkeepers (PAII).  Paula's first workshop was titled "Fun New Ways to Incorporate Fresh Regional Cuisine into your Breakfast Repertoire" presented by Charlie Menard, the Executive Chef at Inn at the Round Barn in Vermont.  Instead of a PowerPoint presentation with suggestions and recipe ideas, the speaker was true to the workshop's title "Fun New Ways..." and he engaged everyone in a modified version of the Food Network program "Chopped!".  No, we didn't yield knives and saute pans in the conference room... it was more of a mental exercise... but it was a hoot!

Here's how it worked:  The workshop attendees were broken up into 3 groups.  We were presented with 18 local/regional/seasonal ingredients and were given about 10-15 minutes to develop a 3-course breakfast menu using as many of the ingredients as we could.  We did not have to use ALL of the provided ingredients and we could add others that were not on the table, but we only got points for the original 18.  Then, a spokesperson from each group presented the menu to the panel of 3 judges who scored the menus based on use of ingredients, practicality, and delicious-ness (or at least perceived delicious-ness, since there weren't any real foods to try).

The ingredients (in no particular order): Eggs, Chevre, Cheddar, Bread, Frozen Local Strawberries, Fresh Cranberries, Beer, Apple Cider, Pork Shoulder, Maple Syrup, Tomato Jam, Onions, Fingerling Potatoes, Sweet Potatoes, Kale, Delicata Squash, Pickled Fiddleheads, and Whole Grain Cornmeal.

Paula's team presented a menu of Cornmeal Johnnycakes topped with a Fruit Compote of Strawberries, with Apples and Pears, followed by a Potato, Onion and Kale Frittata topped with Chevre and Pickled Fiddleheads served alongside a Pulled Pork that had been braised in Beer and Cider and topped with Tomato Jam, and finished off with a Breakfast Bread Pudding made with Cheddar and Cranberries and topped with a Maple Whipped Cream.

We admittedly only used 16 of the 18 ingredients, but decided not to add the Sweet Potato or Delicata Squash "just for the points".   As it turned out... we didn't need to add them since WE WON!

What did we win... well, bragging rights mostly, but we also were treated with a basket of local Vermont goodies to share (see picture below).  Many thanks to teammates Viki, Donna, Susan, Jeanne, and Susan - fellow innkeepers from MA, NH, RI, ME, and VT.

Disclaimer:  I got some good ideas for some new breakfast dishes, but PLEASE don't expect to see the "Winning Menu" on the breakfast table without at least some adaptation. - Paula

I was hoping for some of the Pickled Fiddleheads since I've never tried them, but I got Pickled Ramps... so I guess I'll be trying those instead!  Oh... and the little jar of Caramel Sauce made from Goats Milk will likely be gone by tonight.  To the winner goes the spoils!


  1. Congratulations, it couldn't happen to a nicer couple!

  2. We knew you would do it--you were winners before you got there!