The classic American breakfast is going through a creative revolution as young chefs now look to give customers more than the stereotypical bacon, eggs and pancakes. CBS News’ Jamie Wax spoke to chefs both young and old to see what they have to say about focus shifting away from the more traditional lunch and dinner.
“It’s a cliché, but you know, breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Chefs are now realizing that,” said Bon Appetit editor-in-chief Adam Rapaport. “They wanna apply their sort of attention to detail, their creativity to this meal. And I think customers are responding.”
Many chefs single out Jessica Koslow, the chef who owns Los Angeles’ Sqirl restaurant, as the pioneer behind the current trend. Koslow said she noticed the breakfast culture she aimed to cultivate picked up right when she opened the door. “I felt at that moment, so many people responded to having a place that they could have a unique experience in dining – but during the daytime, at a price that was more affordable,” she said. Though Koslow boasts an incredibly diverse menu — dishes like crispy rice salad disco and an elevated potato pancake known as “flat tots”, Sqirl is especially famous for popularizing avocado toast, a dish that is now on menus everywhere. Another menu item, Sorrel Pesto Rice Bowl is pictured. Koslow said she thinks it is “remarkable” that other chefs are picking up on her idea.
Rapaport weighed in on Sqirl’s rapid success. “I think what’s interesting about Sqirl is that they proved that breakfast can be a moneymaker; you can pack the house. And you can also cook really creatively. You can come up with dishes that are just as tempting and invigorating and sort of eye-opening as on a dinner menu,” he said.
The trend caught on with chefs like Mason Hereford, who owns New Orleans sandwich shop Turkey and the Wolf and inspired him to open a breakfast-focused restaurant called Molly’s Rise and Shine, which he runs with his fiancé. Even chefs celebrated for their more traditional school of thought, such as famed French maestro chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten, cannot deny the appeal. Vongerichten now serves breakfast at five of his restaurants.
“For me, breakfast now has become the favorite meal of the day,” Vongerichten said. But, he said, it has to be “healthy, colorful, and good.” Vongerichten explained that he would have never imagined the appreciation he would have for breakfast when he began his culinary career, and that he credits young chefs like Koslow for paving the way.
“Those young chefs are starting a new movement and I really admire them for, you know, pushing forward,” he praised.
For fans of traditional breakfast who might find the flood of new choices overwhelming, Rapaport wants them not to worry, “there’s still room for everyone at the table.”