Many of us have that “breakfast person” in our lives. Or maybe you are that person: Always up for some jammy eggs to dip a corner of toast into. Heaven. Executive Chef Daniel Concepcion of Table 29 at the Sam’s Club Home Office in Bentonville, Ark., is not only a breakfast person, but he’s a breakfast chef, too.
“Breakfast is my most favorite meal to prepare,” Concepcion says. “In the eyes of some, breakfast can appear to be boring…I get it, scrambled eggs, bacon, toast, potatoes…yes, a typical breakfast may appear that way. However, when you have breakfast with me, you’re getting a marriage of sweet and savory flavors. Breakfast with me is a love language between the food and the soul and maybe that sounds corny or cliché, but when you create an amazing breakfast with passion and from the heart, that first meal of the day becomes an instant memory, and I love being a part of my guests’ memories.”
He makes an impression with those sweet and savory elements, “multiple textures and layers of flavors, to the point when the guest has the first bite and they smile,” he says. “That’s when I know we did it right and those smiles carry them throughout the day.”’
Breakfast items that have been making smiles at Table 29 include a variety of what can only be called advanced breakfast toasts, such as beet hummus toast with avocado, chia seeds and bee pollen; mascarpone toast with fresh berries, poppyseed, peanut butter, banana, honey and pomegranate seed and avocado toasts with distinctive touches like watermelon radish, pickled shallot and grilled asparagus. Concepcion serves a sweet selection of stuffed French toasts and pancakes, too, along with a verde breakfast burrito added to start the day with some heat.
Read on for some other breakfast-minded chefs’ great ideas to get the smiles started first thing.
Photo: This low-carb everything bagel is topped with cream cheese, avocado, lime, cherry tomatoes and a poached egg. “Make it look good, so everyone wants to try it,” that’s breakfast advice from HHS Corporate Chef Brittney Horn.
Raise a morning toast
When planning a breakfast line, keeping an eye on the plating is the key for HHS Corporate Chef Brittney Horn of HHS Business Excellence Team. For example, her grilled sourdough eggs benedict is more composed and contemplative than haphazard breakfast rush, with a cascade of micro greens over tomatoes, ham, poached eggs and a swath of hollandaise sauce. “Plating matters, she says. “Make the dish present beautifully and people can’t help but order it.”
Horn follows that philosophy with other successful breakfast items. Her ricotta toast is a garden-fresh riot of lemony tomatoes, salami and fresh ricotta on grilled Italian bread, snuggled under a tangle of arugula. Her avocado and low-carb everything bagel is a kaleidoscope of avocado, lime, colorful cherry tomatoes, cream cheese, a poached egg, hot sauce and parsley. Another of Horn’s breakfast bread collection, the burrata and bacon toast makes the most of an on-trend cheese and its creamy properties, perching the ball of burrata on a grilled sourdough slice with crispy bacon, balsamic drizzle and Horn’s signature green touch, arugula.
Breakfast goes South, Southwest, Far East
Two other HHS chefs, Executive Chef Rennell Griffin of Sovah Hospital in Virginia and Executive Chef Molly Lindberg of Northfield Hospital in Minnesota, have taken breakfast in a few cool new directions.
One of Griffin’s best breakfasts is Southern fave shrimp and grits. Griffin simmers the grits with chicken base, white pepper and butter, then sizzles the shrimp with bell peppers, asparagus and bacon and tops it with a blend of parmesan, mozzarella and cheddar cheese.
Meanwhile, Lindberg is tapping into the “global breakfast” trend with a fried cauliflower rice bowl that’s both daring and keto friendly. Lindberg calls her clients “very health conscious and lots of them want vegetable-forward meals and keto. This item hits both.” And it also hits those of us who prefer a savory breakfast to a sweet one. Sauteed cauliflower “rice” is topped with a fried egg, crispy bacon, roasted bell pepper and steamed broccoli, then sprinkled with everything bagel seasoning.
Another of Lindberg’s breakfast keepers is the high protein Southwest breakfast bowl. Since “protein” is a buzzword for many health-conscious eaters, this bowl has it covered in an easy-to-grab bowl format. Plant-power duo black beans and sweet potatoes are topped with a fried egg, bacon, avocado, sauteed spinach and a drizzle of hot sauce, the customer’s choice.
Lindberg continues to listen to her health-minded customers with the superfood quinoa porridge, a bowl that’s a blend of quinoa and rolled oats combined with almond milk and cinnamon, then topped with banana slices, blueberry, hemp seeds, chia seeds, flax and raw honey. “I educate my clients on the nutritional value of each item by posting information on a flyer next to the station,” she says.
Wild card start to the day
Dragon eggs just might be the ticket straight out of breakfast boredom and general January doldrums. “We always start with favorite breakfast items such as eggs, bacon, sausage and toast,” says HHS Culinary Director at Union County Hospital, Julie Moses. “What brings sales up is adding a special item for each day. On Tuesdays we have an omelet station; on other days we have special breakfast sandwiches or something like Dragon Eggs.”
So, what are they, exactly? Created by HHS Chef Tournant Paul Wyant of Union County Hospital, in Anna, Ill., Dragon Eggs are “a tasty mix of savory with a touch of sweetness,” Wyant says. “Wrap a boiled egg with ground sausage and then wrap it with brown sugar-candied bacon, lightly dip it in maple syrup and bake until golden brown (and fire-breathing).”