Lee Brian Schrager Discovers America’s Best Breakfasts in Brand-New Book
When Lee Brian Schrager isn’t busy executing two preeminent food and drink festivals — the New York City Wine & Food Festival and the South Beach Wine & Food Festival, both flocked to by your favorite Food Network Stars — he can likely be found on a plane. As vice president of corporate communications at Southern Wine & Spirits, this jet setter is known for scouring the globe not just to find the best dishes far and away, but also to get to know the people behind them.
It was just a few years ago that he and Adeena Sussman, a chef and food writer, put together the ultimate collection of fan-favorite fried chicken hot spots in the country with Fried & True: More Than 50 Recipes for America’s Best Fried Chicken and Sides. Now this cookbook duo has introduced a go-to guide to what’s perhaps the most-important meal of the day: breakfast. America’s Best Breakfasts: Favorite Local Recipes from Coast to Coast is chock-full of more than 60 wake-up-worthy meals from hot-spot eateries and little-known joints alike.
Recently FN Dish caught up with Schrager to chat about his new book and get the scoop on morning meals. But it turns out that, in his view, breakfast isn’t just for the early hours. “Breakfast is really the only meal of the day that you can have for breakfast, lunch or dinner — or late night coming home from a club or a party,” he says, noting that this is among the reasons he has such a penchant for breakfast. He says that being able to dig into a meal in PJs is an added benefit too, and we have to agree.
According to Schrager, the dishes in this book, which boasts recipe contributions from famed restaurants like San Francisco’s Tartine and Chicago’s Ann Sather, aren’t just delectable but downright doable, too; you don’t have to be a restaurant chef to make these from-the-restaurant meals, he notes. “Although we probably ended up with 280 to 300 recipes, we had to whittle it down once we received the recipes to what worked at home and what the home cook could do — that was really important,” he explains. And when it comes to the dishes up for grabs, you can savory favorites like next-level avocado toast and breakfast-inspired pasta with clams as well as sweeter picks like homemade fruit-and-cheese Danish and extra-buttery cinnamon buns. “We really wanted to have not only something that was for the home cook, … [but] something that was a little unique and different from their regular recipe that they could gather anywhere,” he noted.
Schrager took his time traveling to gather recipes for both his fried chicken book and this breakfast book. While checking out eateries for breakfast, it became clear, he noted, that “people are very particular on how they want their breakfast and people are very dedicated to the item.” He explains: “People are not very adventurous with breakfast. They have an item, they grew up eating it, they go out for breakfast every weekend, they have the same thing. People are really not as adventurous with breakfast as they are with other meals of the day.” And it turns out that for Schrager, that irresistible breakfast pick is granola. “I love granola. I love, love, love granola,” he tells us. “Whenever I see granola, if I know that it’s homemade, I always try granola.”
You can buy a copy of America’s Best Breakfasts, or stay tuned to FN Dish to find out later how you can be entered to win a copy for free. In the meantime, hear from Schrager on five of his favorite recipes from the book, one from each region of the country.
Plus, tune in to Food Network’s The Kitchen on Saturday, May 28 at 11a|10c to watch as Schrager introduces his book to the co-hosts.
From the West Coast:
“The croque monsieur sandwiches from Tartine in San Francisco are a delicacy to be savored, starring a mouthwatering bechamel with a hint of nutmeg and bay leaf acting as the perfect complement to smoky ham and Gruyère cheese. The secret to this is great day-old country bread from your local bakery serving as the crunchy platform for its smoky and salty toppings.”
From the Midwest:
“What’s not to love about biscuits and gravy? We bring you: cheesy biscuits and vegetarian gravy from Over Easy in Omaha, Neb. — housed in a former Blimpie space, complete with a drive-thru window offering farm-fresh breakfast on the go! Sans bacon grease, the gravy is rich and earthy from the added mushrooms and sprinkling of scallion, and melds nicely with the Italian blend of cheeses and sunny-side-up egg on top.”
From the South:
“Think about your classic breakfast special plate from your neighborhood diner — now wrap it all up into a tasty bundle. All hail the bacon, egg and cheese ‘PACO’ from the Food On A Roll Truck (FOAR) based in my hometown of Miami. A pancake shell (best when you can drape [it] over a mold to shape while cooling) holds an over-easy egg, crispy bacon, melty cheese and a drizzle of maple syrup to give you the perfect bite of classic breakfast every time.”
From the Northeast:
“Two of the sweetest things come together to make the decadent cannoli French toast found at Café Lift in Philadelphia. A hint of lemon zest, earthy pistachios and creamy ricotta take your classic French toast game to new heights. Any sweet tooth would be satiated, no matter what time of day it is, with this indulgent treat.
From the Mid-Atlantic:
“The exact origin of pairing fried chicken and waffles might not be known, but there’s no doubt that the combination found at Birch & Barley in Washington, D.C., is one of the best you’ll find. A seasoned flour mixture coats buttermilk-brined chicken thighs for a dose of savory goodness, served over sweet waffles and topped with salty bacon to get your taste buds dancing.”