115 Indian Springs Dr
Media, PA 19063-5622
The Hamanassett Bed & Breakfast is a grand 1856 English-Country-style manor house situated on a seven-acre estate in the Brandywine Valley area of southeast Pennsylvania. One of the highlights of the B&B are the various themed cooking classes and dinners they hold throughout the year. I spoke with owner Glenn Mon to get more information about the challenges and rewards of expanding a B&B to offer this type of service.
When did you begin the cooking classes?
We began the Brandywine Country Cooking School about four years ago.
When you bought the inn, did you always know you were going to do classes, or did you evolve into it?
When we started Hamanassett we always knew that our food service was going to be a significant part of the guest experience. Breakfast would be a served affair in the dining room on china with crystal and silver and candlelight. Our philosophy was that we wanted to give our guests something they would not probably make at home and definitely would not find at a Denny’s.
Which classes have been your most popular?
When we decided to begin our Brandywine Country Cooking School we decided it would be a hands-on experience where the guest would be actively engaged in the preparation of the menu under the guidance and tutelage of a professional chef. It was not going to be a demo. We also wanted to theme our classes to a particular time of year or event. Hence we've done ‘Dining at the White House’ featuring a menu created from favorite foods of our Presidents around President’s Day holiday; ‘Romantic Dining’ around Valentine’s Day; ‘Last Dinner on the Titanic’ around April 12th and ‘English Holiday Fare’ several weeks prior to Thanksgiving. Our ‘Last Dinner on the Titanic’, where the guests prepare the multi-course menu from the first- class dining salon on the Titanic, has been exceptionally popular. So has our ‘Brandywine Bounty’ class which is presented in the summer with the class spending a full day sourcing ingredients from local farms, artisanal producers and wineries, then using those ingredients to make dinner.
On weekends during which you're holding classes, do you find that there's more guest-to-guest interaction/camaraderie?
Very definitely. The guests enjoy a reception the evening before the school, spend six hours cooking together (over two sessions), and partake of lunch and dinner together. Hence there is significant interaction and camaraderie. Most all of our guests who have taken our classes end up exchanging email addresses with one another and sharing photos and experiences afterwards. Of course the paired wine service with the dinner offering adds to the convivial atmosphere among the participants
Do you feel that holding the classes has improved your occupancy?
Yes, and also from a marketing perspective. We've had numerous mentions of our cooking classes in a number of publications and food blog sites and Philadelphia’s ABC-TV featured our ‘Romantic Dining’ class on a Valentine’s Day special feature. We've also enjoyed repeat business due to our presentation of cooking classes.
What advice would you give an innkeeper thinking about starting up cooking classes?
There are a lot of factors to consider. Do you have a suitable environment to conduct a class? We're fortunate in that we have a very large, well-equipped professional kitchen. However, we determined early on that for the best guest experience we had to limit our classes to ten participants since we were doing a hands-on class and any more than ten participants would be stretching the available working space. What sort of a class will you be offering: demo, hands-on, or a combination? Do you have insurance that covers you for the presentation of these classes, especially if you're doing a hands-on experience? It’s one thing to serve your guests breakfasts, but it is in an entirely different thing to arm them with knives, graters, mandolins, hot pans, hot stoves, and ovens!
Hamanassett’s manor house features seven bedrooms, all with en suite baths, flat screen TV’s with DVD players, luxurious robes, English amenities, free WiFi and coffee/tea makers with supplies. The public area of the house features a billiards/games room, living room/library and sunlit solarium and the formal dining room. Complimentary Port and Sherry are always available for the guests’ enjoyment as well as a guest pantry with ice maker, refrigerator, microwave oven, gourmet coffees and teas and complimentary snacks and beverages. Hamanassett also features one two-bedroom 2.5 bath Carriage House and one two-bedroom 1.5 bath Cottage that are child and pet friendly.