Expert Interview Series: Nicole Brayton of Brayton Bed and Breakfast About Operating a B&B

Nicole Winchel Brayton, owner and operator of Brayton Bed and Breakfast, is the chef, accountant, landscaper, concierge, and jack of all trades. We managed to catch up with Nicole to ask her about running a bed and breakfast, and...

Breakfast dishes

Nicole Winchel Brayton, owner and operator of Brayton Bed and Breakfast, is the chef, accountant, landscaper, concierge, and jack of all trades. We managed to catch up with Nicole to ask her about running a bed and breakfast, and learned about some of the delicious breakfast dishes that her guests enjoy at the B&B.

Why did you choose to open a bed and breakfast?

Short answer: I wanted to spend more time with my family.

Briefly walk us through a typical day as the owner of (and cook for) a bed and breakfast.

Every day is different than the next when you are dealing with the public. Everyone's needs, including dietary restrictions, are different.

Usually, my day begins around 6:00 AM when I start preparing for breakfast, which we serve between 8:30 and 10:00 AM depending what our guests' requests are. We offer two choices each day: a sweet dish such as a stuffed French toast, and a savory dish such as quiche. Each breakfast item comes with bread or muffin, sausage or bacon, a choice of juices, milk, coffee and tea. During breakfast, we discuss with our guests where to go and what to do in the area.

After breakfast, cleanup begins and I start prepping for the next day's breakfast, and also start preparing desserts for the evening. Sometime around 1:00 PM, it's time to straighten up the inn and prepare guest rooms for new arrivals that start coming in around 4:00 PM. We offer a wine and cheese social at 5:00 PM, so I am busy once again in the kitchen preparing small appetizers. This is a time for guests to get to know each other and for us to answer additional questions.

Then cleanup begins again, not only inside but outside, making sure the gardens are kept up and walks and driveways are clean. Sometime afterward, it is dinner with the family, a little bit of bookkeeping, and then my head in the pillow pretty quickly soon after.

When you became a bed and breakfast owner, what skills did you have to learn and master quickly?

I think either you have it or you don't. You have to be a people person. You legitimately have to like people and be willing to answer the same questions over and over. Being able to keep a clean house and loving to cook doesn't hurt either.

If someone told you that they were thinking about opening up a bed and breakfast, what one piece of advice would you give them?

Make sure you have someone that can help you. You cannot cook breakfast and shovel the walk at the same time. For us, with five rooms, if everyone leaves on the same day and you have five new arrivals coming in, it is almost impossible to get all the rooms clean yourself without help.

My husband is my rock. He loves what we do just as much as do. He is pretty handy with a hammer, too. That doesn't hurt either.

What are some of the tasty breakfast dishes that you prepare for your guests?

We have about 100 different recipes that we rotate based on the number of people we are serving and the seasons. I am also experimenting all the time with new items, too. Some of our guests' favorites that get requested most often are our crème Brule French toast, baked oatmeal, and breakfast lasagna.

Do have a favorite breakfast recipe that you'd like to share with us?

Well, since our crème Brule French toast gets requested the most often, I will share that one. I took two recipes and meshed them together to create this dish.

Creme Brule French Toast - Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 stick of butter
  • 1 C brown sugar
  • 2 tsp. corn syrup
  • 1 loaf of cinnamon bread
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 C half and half
  • 1 tsp. of vanilla

Streusel topping:

  • 1/4 brown sugar
  • 1/2 stick butter
  • 1/4 C old-fashioned oatmeal
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 C chopped pecans(optional)

  1. Heat butter, brown sugar, and corn syrup in a small saucepan until it starts to simmer and slightly bubble, stirring occasionally.
  2. Pour sugar mixture into an 8×8 casserole dish.
  3. Take 4 pieces of cinnamon bread and lay them in the bottom of the 8×8 pan, making them fit. Do this 2 more times so you have 4 stacks of 3 high slices of bread.
  4. Mix together the eggs, half and half, and vanilla. Pour this over the bread mixture and refrigerate overnight.
  5. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Bake for 15 minutes.
  6. While baking, mix together the streusel topping. When bread mixture is done, sprinkle the topping over the bread and bake an additional 10 minutes longer.
  7. Serve with strawberry jam on the side.

When making breakfast for guests, what kitchen utensil, tool, or gadget do you rely on the most?

No doubt, my KitchenAid stand mixer.

If someone were to buy you a gift for your kitchen and money was no object, what would you want?

A second KitchenAid stand mixer or a juicer.

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