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Boston Chefs Air Their Brunch Grievances

From poorly cooked eggs to grumpy people, here are some of the things that bother local chefs about brunch. This is the fourth installment of the Breakfast Week Q&A series.

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Andy Husbands

Andy Husbands (square)

"It’s all about the coffee; get it to me quick and I’ll be okay (maybe with a splash of whiskey in it, too)." —Andy Husbands, chef/owner of The Smoke Shop (coming soon), Tremont 647, and Sister Sorel

Image credit: Provided

Erica Keefe

Erica Keefe (square)

"Runny egg whites really do not appeal to me." —Erica Keefe, executive chef of Five Horses Tavern (South End)

Image credit: Provided

Mike Wyatt

Mike Wyatt (square)

"Ha! I don't think the brunch shift is too popular for restaurant employees. There are just a lot of extra steps of service: multiple beverages per person (water, coffee, juice, bloody), and guests are usually extra particular about food preparation. Nothing quite like working a busy brunch shift early AM with a hangover." —Mike Wyatt, general manager and beverage director of Ward 8

Image credit: Provided

Ines Santos

Ines Santos (larger square)

"We decided to suspend traditional brunch dishes at The Salty Pig because we were in an unusual situation. To serve classic brunch, with "eggs any style" and such, we were using our pizza oven for egg preparation, and so we had no pizzas on the menu. It was unnecessary brand confusion, so we started serving lunch seven days a week, and it's been great. You can always add an egg to a pizza or a sandwich if you want that true brunch feeling, and we get to focus on our strengths!" —Ines Santos, general manager of The Salty Pig

Image credit: Provided

Jason Santos

Jason Santos (square)

"Don't overcook my eggs!!!!!!!!!!!" —Jason Santos, chef/owner of Abby Lane and Back Bay Harry's

Image credit: Provided

Joshua Smith

Joshua Smith (square)

"Working Sundays. Let's do brunch on Saturday :)" —Joshua Smith, chef/owner of Moody's Delicatessen and The Backroom

Image credit: Provided

Christine and Carla Pallotta

Carla and Christine Pallotta (square)

"Restaurants which close between 2 p.m. and dinner. We eat Italian-style most days. Big meal in the middle of the day, and unfortunately there aren't many choices for brunch that late." —Christine Pallotta, chef/owner of Nebo Cucina & Enoteca

"Most restaurants stop serving at 2 p.m., and after working until 2 a.m. the night before, I'm just about able to get moving by that time."
—Carla Pallotta, chef/owner of Nebo Cucina & Enoteca

Image credit: Christine (left) and Carla Pallotta/Provided

Diana Kudajarova

Diana Kudajarova (square)

"Bad coffee. I don't want to name any culprits, but I rarely go out for brunch because most places have awful coffee, and it just completely ruins the experience for me." —Diana Kudajarova, chef/co-owner of JourneymanBackbarAmes Street Deli, and Study

Image credit: Provided

Sam Treadway

Sam Treadway (square)

"I used to work brunch at Eastern Standard (many moons ago), and I can recall the frustrations over everybody at the bar needing a water, an OJ, a bloody mary, a beer, and of course coffee all at the same time — and needing all five beverages to be full at all times. It was a lot to keep up with!" —Sam Treadway, co-owner and bar manager of JourneymanBackbarAmes Street Deli, and Study

Image credit: Provided

Ben Weisberger

Ben Weisberger (square)

"I am not a fan of bloody mary bars — if I wanted to make my own cocktail, I could have stayed home and had breakfast on my couch." —Ben Weisberger, chef de cuisine of No. 9 Park

Image credit: Wayne Chinnock Photography

Matt Drummond

Matt Drummond

"Brunch is a totally different kind of service in which people tend to want to be fed and hydrated (or dehydrated) quicker than your typical dinner crowd. I believe that in order to satisfy that difference, the execution and service must be flawless (or damn near flawless) in order to please the masses." —Matt Drummond, executive chef of Loco Taqueria & Oyster Bar

Image credit: Provided

Robert Tobin

Robert Tobin (square)

"I wish there was a brunch happy hour (I think we all do.)" —Robert Tobin, chef of Aura and TAMO Bistro & Bar at the Seaport Hotel

Image credit: Provided

Brian Poe

Brian Poe

"To the restaurants: Don't be rude. Believe me, we know that Sundays suck and service is slower, but we're here to support you. To the customers: Believe me, we know that Sundays suck and service is slower but we're here to support you. Everyone needs to approach brunch in a relaxed, happy hangover state. Become one with brunch. Zen brunch. Be the brunch. Find a way to feed people from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.; I really want to support my friend’s restaurants on my day off, but if restaurants insist that customers can only have X, Y, and Z between 3 and 5 p.m., then the guest will match your 'Hangover Brunch' with 'Hangry,' and it's no longer fun. Especially for those who got home from work at 3 a.m." —Brian Poe, chef/owner of Bukowski Tavern (Cambridge), Poe's Kitchen at the Rattlesnake, and The Tip Tap Room

Image credit: Michael Piazza

Patrick Gilmartin

Patrick Gilmartin (square)

"Industry people complaining about brunch has become kind of cliché; it’s just another service. Also, I'm a morning person, so I'm not super cranky for brunch." —Patrick Gilmartin, executive chef of River Bar

Image credit: Brian Samuels

Shayne Nunes

Shayne Nunes

"Other than it is the most annoying, stressful shift to work? Imagine cooking two eggs for yourself in the morning, trying to crack the egg perfectly into the pan without it breaking the yolk. Trying to be gentle with it and pray that it doesn't stick if you aren't using nonstick pans or didn't use enough butter. Trying to get the perfect egg yolk that is delicious and runny to dip your bread into without overcooking it. Now try doing that for 150-200 people; no thanks." —Shayne Nunes, executive chef of Foundry on Elm and Saloon

Image credit: Provided

David Verdo

David Verdo

"Having to work brunch shift and not being able to service alcohol until 10 a.m." —David Verdo, executive chef of Outlook Kitchen and Bar

Image credit: Official Site

Marga Raffucci

Marga Raffucci (square)

"Only thing is home fries. I find a lot of the time they are either bland or even undercooked. A nice crispy potato is so great with eggs; it just feels like a missed opportunity to me." —Marga Raffucci, executive chef of Sorellina

Image credit: Provided

Mitchell Randall

Mitchell Randall (square)

"None. Brunch is a great service for well-prepared kitchens" —Mitchell Randall, executive chef of Ostra

Image credit: Provided

Angela Lamb

Angela Lamb (square)

"I love breakfast, but the crowds always drive me nuts." —Angela Lamb, general manager at Coda

Image credit: Provided

Olivier Senoussaoui

Olivier Senoussaoui

"When people ask for ‘a half an egg yolk.’" —Olivier Senoussaoui, executive chef of Precinct Kitchen + Bar

Image credit: Provided

Josh Turka

Josh Turka (square)

"One issue I have with brunch is that at a lot of places seem to have forgotten the 'unch' part. It’s supposed to be a beautiful breakfast/lunch mashup. A lot of times, menus are all eggs, pancakes, and waffles. That's not brunch; that’s a breakfast menu available at one o’clock." —Josh Turka, executive chef of The Salty Pig

Image credit: Provided

Amanda McLaughlin

Amanda McLaughlin (square)

"YES, coffee!!! Nowhere does it right — just give out giant pots for tables. You can never get enough coffee, and brunch staff is already always so busy to help refill!" —Amanda McLaughlin, general manager of Tico

Image credit: Provided

Avi Shemtov

Avi Shetov (square)

"My biggest brunch pet peeve [when I go out to brunch] are other people who come to brunch. I'm such a hypocrite, but I like my brunch served without bloody mary-sipping brunch groupies." —Avi Shemtov, owner and executive chef of The Chubby Chickpea

Image credit: Provided

Kyle Crusius

Kyle Crusius

"How the f*ck do people mess up potatoes? Those aren't hash browns; those are boiled potatoes." —Kyle Crusius, chef de cuisine at The Chubby Chickpea

Image credit: Provided

Molly Hanson

Molly Hanson

"Sometimes, brunch means a long wait for food. It is torture to me. I am happy to linger over dinner, but in the middle of the day, I want to get out and go. (Plus, I have kids, and they tend to torture other diners during a meal that runs too long.)" —Molly Hanson, executive pastry chef at Grill 23 & Bar and Post 390

Image credit: Provided

Jay Murray

Jay Murray

"I was once told we couldn’t have orange juice until the bartenders came in at 4 p.m. Why even bother opening?" —Jay Murray, executive chef of Grill 23 & Bar

Image credit: Provided

Nick Deutmeyer

Nick Deutmeyer

"That there aren’t more places that do brunch within walking distance of my house!" —Nick Deutmeyer, chef de cuisine at Post 390

Image credit: Provided

Greg Reeves

Greg Reeves (square)

"Too many places charge too much." —Greg Reeves, chef/co-owner of Viale

Image credit: Rachel Leah Blumenthal for Eater

Jonathan Kopacz

Jonathan Kopacz (square)

'When restaurants have too big of a menu. Keep it concise and do it well." —Jonathan Kopacz, executive chef of Brass Union

Image credit: Provided

Jeff Williams

Jeff Williams (square)

"People trying too hard…brunch is supposed to be a relaxing 'get buzzed in the middle of the day and just have good food' kind of meal. Don’t overcomplicate that." —Jeff Williams, executive chef of Chopps American Bar and Grill

Image credit: Provided

Dante de Magistris

Dante de Magistris (square)

"My big brunch grievance is with homefries and hash browns. They’re gross, and you can taste when they are old, and paprika makes me cringe." —Dante de Magistris, chef/owner of Restaurant DanteIl Casale Cucina Italiana, and Il Casale Cucina Campana

Image credit: Provided

Brian Rae

Brian Rae (square)

"Why does it have to happen so early in the morning? I think we are going to do a brunch for dinner night this spring." —Brian Rae, executive chef of Centre Street Cafe

Image credit: Provided

Patrick Campbell

Patrick Campbell (square)

"My biggest brunch grievance is when it’s only offered on Saturdays. I have very few Saturdays off, so when I do take one for a wedding or something, I would love to go out to lunch. It's surprisingly hard to find a quality lunch on a Saturday! Other than that, there are few things worse than poorly cooked eggs." —Patrick Campbell, executive chef of Cafe ArtScience

Image credit: Wayne Chinnock

Rachel Klein

Rachel Klein (square)

"I can’t stand when the lighting is too bright or the place is empty — it takes away from the experience." —Rachel Klein, chef/owner of RFK Kitchen (coming soon)

Image credit: Provided

Francis Santos

Francis Santos (square)

"I prefer brunch outdoors in warm weather. Boston summers are too short, and there aren't enough places that can serve brunch outdoors." —Francis Santos, executive chef of Ester

Image credit: Provided

Adrienne Mosier

Adrienne Wright (square)

"Why does anyone set up an omelette station without salt and pepper? Why bother to make omelettes to order if you aren't going to season them? Let's get back to basics, people. Before bacon or onions or even just cheese come salt and pepper." —Adrienne Mosier, chef de cuisine at Deuxave

Image credit: Provided

Robert Fathman

Robert Fathman

"As a cook, brunch pretty much sucks after a busy Saturday night. But I love the challenge of flipping eggs during a busy service, so I generally enjoy working brunch." —Robert Fathman, executive chef of Osteria Posto

Image credit: Provided

Joe Cassinelli

Joe Cassinelli - square

"Please stop filling up my coffee cup before I'm done." —Joe Cassinelli, chef/owner of Alpine Restaurant Group (PostoOsteria PostoPainted BurroRosebud)

Image credit: Provided

Joe Carli

Joe Carli - square

"Keep it simple." —Joe Carli, chef at Posto

Image credit: Provided

State Park Team

State Park team

"Too many modifications and special requests. Brunch seems to be the only meal of the week where customers want to customize everything, and the kitchen has to oblige." —Leah Nadel, Tyler Sundet, and Alon Munzer, respectively chef de cuisine, chef/partner, and partner of State Park

Image credit: Leah Nadel, Tyler Sundet, and Alon Munzer/Provided

Joseph Ellia

Joseph Ellia

"I only have one brunch grievance — I have learned that people are the way they are about their steaks as they are about their eggs. Everyone’s doneness is different; one person looks at an over easy as something different that another person does. Why can’t we just have a locked down example for everyone over the doneness of egg? It would really make a lot of chefs and customers happy." —Joseph Ellia, sous chef at Bear in Boots Gastropub

Image credit: Provided

Daniel Bruce

Daniel Bruce

"I have two: First, brunch has become more like lunch. I think a good brunch should have more breakfast items available as well. Second, restaurants often overcook eggs on high heat — there is nothing worse than an overcooked egg! Instead, eggs should be cooked slowly at a low temperature to make sure they stay soft." Daniel Bruce, Boston Harbor Hotel chef (Meritage Restaurant & Wine Bar, Rowes Wharf Bar, and Rowes Wharf Sea Grille)

Image credit: Provided

Kerem Benyamini

Kerem Benyamini

"The only grievance I have is when restaurants say they offer brunch but really only offer lunch. If I am headed to brunch, I expect to have a burger with an egg on it as one option, at a minimum." —Kerem Benyamini, beverage director at Rowes Wharf Bar & Rowes Wharf Sea Grille at Boston Harbor Hotel

Image credit: Provided

Diane Kochilas

Diane Kochilas

"Too often in too many places, poached eggs come to the table either runny and sopping wet or overcooked!" —Diane Kochilas, consulting chef at Committee

Image credit: Provided

Justin Shoults

Justin Shoults

"One brunch item I cannot stand being done wrong is pancakes. I do not like dry pancakes. I need them to have enough garnish and sauce to moisten them up." —Justin Shoults, executive chef of BRINE

Image credit: Provided

Matt Foley

Matt Foley

"People in a rush. It's brunch; relax and have a couple of cocktails!" —Matt Foley, executive chef of The Merchant

Image credit: Provided

Mark Sapienza

Mark Sapienza

"I can’t stand seeing a buffet-style brunch overloaded with low-quality product just to make it look big." —Mark Sapienza, executive chef of The Langham, Boston

Image credit: Provided

Greg Jordan

Greg Jordan

"The unicorn of brunch that I'd like to know is: What is an 'over-medium' egg?" —Greg Jordan, executive chef of The Quarry

Image credit: Provided

David Danforth

David Danforth (2)

"When a guest individually orders multiple beverages and expects them at the same time — a water, coffee, cocktail or juice, Mimosa and Bloody Mary. People need to relax at brunch; it's not a speed-order counter." —David Danforth, beverage director at The Quarry

Image credit: Provided

Nick Calias

Nick Calias

"Only serve home-made hash!!!!" —Nick Calias, executive chef of Brasserie Jo

Image credit: Provided

Jeremy Sewall

Jeremy Sewall

"Eggs always need to be cooked correctly. It’s very important and can make or break an entire meal. Also, in my opinion, breakfast pizzas usually fail. Not my favorite." —Jeremy Sewall, chef/partner of LineageIsland Creek Oyster Bar, and Row 34

Image credit: Provided

Matt Jennings

Matt Jennings

"A bad bloody mary is my biggest brunch grievance. There is literally nothing worse." —Matt Jennings, chef/owner of Townsman

Image credit: Provided

Salvatore Boscarino

Salvatore Boscarino

"I think a lot of restaurants try to do brunch, but it's not as easy as throwing some eggs on a plate. The term 'brunch' can be thrown around often. It's definitely a learning process as there are many variables to consider in order to execute a proper brunch — from cocktails to coffee to the kitchen. After two years of running brunch on the weekends, we still work hard to improve our brunch service." —Salvatore Boscarino, co-owner of Pier 6

Image credit: Provided

Chris Robins

Chris Robins

"Brunch is fun — big smiles, hot food, great drinks, fast service. If any of that is missing, you have failed." —Chris Robins, culinary director and managing partner of the Aquitaine Group

Image credit: Provided

Gregory Weinstock

Gregory Weinstock

"Just because you put a sunny side egg on it, it's not a creative brunch item. Use your head, people; get funky and creative." —Gregory Weinstock, general manager of Salvatore’s (Theatre District)

Image credit: Provided

Izzy Berdan

Izzy berdan

"People...more specifically people who don't know how to brunch. Just a heads up, if you normally need a cup of coffee or a drink to make yourself more socially acceptable, please have it before leaving the house. Your friends will thank you." —Izzy Berdan, creative director of the Aquitaine Group

Image credit: Provided

Gregory Torrech

Gregory Torrech

"Guests that stick with the standard fare and don't try anything new. Brunch is a good time to get adventurous." —Gregory Torrech, executive chef of The Beehive

Image credit: Provided

Tony Maws

Tony Maws

"Cold eggs, scrambled eggs that are dry/overcooked, and toast that is not toasted — it’s called bread." —Tony Maws, chef/owner of Craigie on Main and The Kirkland Tap & Trotter

Image credit: Rachel Leah Blumenthal for Eater

Tom Borgia

Tom Borgia

"My biggest brunch grievance is when it's obvious the server or bartender hates his or her brunch shift or has stayed out too late the previous night. Be professional, for Pete's sake." —Tom Borgia, executive chef of State Street Provisions

Image credit: Provided


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