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December 8, 2023

Our most popular breakfast dish

This morning another memory tugs at my mind – a wonderful story begging for the spotlight. I opened the first small Cora restaurant the day I turned 40, on May 27, 1987. Proof that it’s never too late to dream big.

My three kids and I were working hard to lift ourselves out of poverty. I remember those days, 36 years ago, like it was only yesterday. My teenagers and I shared the same endless creative talent that continued to delight our clientele. One beautiful Saturday morning, Gigi arrived at our second restaurant exactly at the same time as Monsieur Pom, our baker, who was excited to share a new product with us.

My darling Gigi, a discerning food lover who’s as curious as an owl, rushed forward and took the surprise from his hands. She tore off the packaging and, for a few long minutes, examined, pressed and sniffed the magnificent cinnamon-raisin brioche that would eventually become the choice of millions of our customers with a sweet ’n salty appetite.

Without saying a word, our in-house conjurer of amazing delights, sliced the brioche horizontally in the middle, oblivious to the baffled gaze of the baker. Lost in her thoughts, the young cook surveyed the fruit counter in front of her. The baker, myself and a food-obsessed waitress were all speechless.

My daughter’s mind was turning. Then she smiled and called for silence. For a few moments, you could almost hear her neurons crackling, foreshadowing something dazzling to come. Gigi dipped each brioche half into our deliciously spiced French toast batter and gently laid them on the griddle. The bread began to quiver before gradually embracing the warmth and crisping into an unexpected treat.

My daughter’s face lit up the moment she slipped a spatula under the two golden pieces to transfer them to a large oblong plate. Knowing her, I realized that a new star had just joined the Pantheon of our breakfast menu.

Gigi the magician placed a nice sunny-side-up egg and two slices of bacon on one brioche half and garnished the other with a mountain of beautifully cut fresh fruit. “There you go, Mom,” she said rather pleased with herself. “Bravo, my talented daughter! After all the seeds I have been planting in your head, at last, a wonderful harvest.”

We christened the new dish “1990’s HARVEST.” The regulars sitting at the counter were immediately offered a taste, and a few days afterwards, the new dish was the reigning star of the illustrations adorning the walls of the second Cora restaurant.

Elated by the success of her recent creation, my daughter insisted that we print up a proper menu. This way customers wouldn’t have to twist their necks to look at the walls to see what was available. A menu that would provide a deliciously detailed description of the 1990’s HARVEST, along with a line crediting its creation to none other than mademoiselle Gigi.

Of course, one must strike the iron while it’s hot, so I put a few extra hours in each day to put together our first menu. Entirely hand-drawn by myself in black and white, the menu was printed on a single large sheet and folded in four, a source of frustration for our poor customers for a few years until we could improve our skills and financial means. Three decades later, 1990’s harvest remains one of the most popular breakfasts we’ve invented. Imitated and copied left and right wherever breakfast is served, this outstanding sweet ’n salty dish is a fine example of the effects of the morning gastronomic revolution that started in 1987 with the arrival of Cora restaurants.

Any reason is a good reason to treat yourself to a 1990’s harvest. A delicious, comforting dish and a darn good sweet ’n salty breakfast!