Breakfast club: the brunch potluck that will transform your concept of parties

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Hello there, tiny pancakes
Who wants to come over?

In 2000, Andreas and I abandoned our city life to live in the outskirts of Olympia, WA, a forested college town about an hour south of Seattle. He was finishing college, and I was working from home as a freelance writer and editor. Our weekends went from all-night parties/recovery to a much quieter, rural existence.

Naturally, we got a little bored, especially as winter settled in and the Northwest descended into its annual rainy hibernation mode. So we scraped together the few friends-of-friends we knew in Olympia and started organizing this brunch potluck every Sunday called Breakfast Club.

Here’s how it worked:

Whoever was hosting would provide copious amounts of caffeine, and prepare some sort of easy savory scramble — a potato/veggie/tofu blend for the vegans, maybe a massive cheesy egg scramble for the others. If they wanted to make pancakes or french toast, more power to ’em — but the key was warm, protein-rich, and easy.

The other four or five participants would bring “grab it on your way over” stuff like donuts, fruit, yogurt, pastries from the bakery, and mimosa makings. Of course people could get fancy if they wanted to, but the goal was to make it easy to swing by a bakery and grab cinnamon rolls.

The host’s warm protein-rich meal grounded the food spread, taking care of the savory end of the spectrum. The guest’s piles of baked goods and fruit took care of everyone’s sweet tooth and ongoing snacking needs. Then it was just a question of double-fisting beverages: french press coffee in one hand, a mimosa in the other.

Bellies full, we’d refill our glasses and slump down on the couch to watch the movie equivalent of comfort food. An ’80s comedy, a romcom we all knew would end in a rush to the airport for a kiss, something brainless and reassuring. Something that could be snarked at and talked over, or even fallen asleep to. Our single friends loved it, one commenting that Sundays were her “lonely day,” and spending it curled up on the couch with a pile of sweet people was a great way to stave off the Sunday afternoon existential malaise.

Friends, food, mimosas, a movie … next thing you know it’s 5pm, everyone had a gentle hangover, and it was time to go home and putter around a bit before going to bed. Now THAT’S how to enjoy a rainy weekend day. As the weather improved, instead of watching movies, we’d move out to the backyard to digest our food like vitamin-D-starved slugs glistening in the sun.

That was 10 years ago, but we still do a variation of Breakfast Club, only now it’s pancake-focused. (I got this cast iron griddle last year and have been obsessed with pancakes ever since.) Every Saturday, I strap on my apron and cook my one meal of the week: a huge mess of thin Swedish pancakes that I serve with a spread of toppings that could rival any Taco Night: syrup, yogurt, berries, sweet cream, peanut butter, jam. Our guests bring bacon and mimosas, and Tavi impresses everyone with his INSANE powers of pancake inhalation.

Homies, I highly, highly recommend you consider the concept of a brunch potluck. As someone who came of age between the hours of 11pm and 5am, reveling in nightlife and days wasted to cracked-out hangovers, it was a weird shift to me to start socializing during the day. You mean … you have a party in the morning!? A party where there might be imbibements, but the point is NOT to get so wasted that you pass out at the end? A party where you’re not shouting over music, but can… talk? Wait, WHAT!?

Yes. Yes to all these things. Yes to seeing your friends in the light of day, yes to talking, yes to sharing food that’s easy (just grab donuts on your way over! No big deal!), yes to not passing out at the end.

Breakfast Club: it’s what you’re doing this weekend.

Comments on Breakfast club: the brunch potluck that will transform your concept of parties

  1. There is absolutely nothing more rejuvenating than a lazy, delicious, filling Sunday brunch with friends. I thought brunch was a stuffy old people concept until I got in college. We’d be fresh off a trip or just starting a hangover and slug ourselves together to the dining hall to nosh on waffles, eggs, coffee and cereal and conversation. Suddenly, Monday looked not so bleak.
    After I graduated, making Sunday brunch meant preparing it myself (which means it happened far less frequently.) But it’s something I miss, something I do crave in my life.
    First step: find more friends.

    • Also. I love this video. Especially the part where he smacks his hands down and scrunches up his face like “OH NOES I AM OUT OF PANCEKS.” And then he’s like “Whew, some behind my arm. Back to nom.”

  2. One of my friends did a morning party once. She cooked homemade from scratch pumpkin pancakes and mimosas (which btw are so incredibly strong) and her sister gave discounted massages to those who wanted it (which were to die for).

    We must bring this back! I’m all for morning parties! <3

  3. My group of friends has been doing that for… 4-5 years, now!

    We’ve switched to a bi-weekly schedule (to accommodate shifting work schedules, medical issues, children, church schedules for people who’ve started going, etc) in the past few years (lifestyle changes!) but it’s a great way to spend an afternoon lazing about with people, and an excellent way to have a relatively large group of friends and see them all pretty often!

    The advantage of brunch, too, is that a lot of food is make-ahead, a fair amount can be adjusted for allergies/food issues (offbeat eaters!), and it’s all pretty expandable (once you’re making french toast in the oven, making it for 2 or 20 takes about the same amount of work…)

    Highly recommended!

  4. Brunch is the best – for our wedding, instead of serving a traditional late lunch of cold cuts/sandwich type things, we served a full-on breakfast buffet. Breakfast at 10:00 p.m. when everyone is half in the bag at your wedding? Super awesome. I highly recommend it.

  5. Tavi’s pancake eating technique bears a striking resemblance to that of professional eaters I have seen. It would only be more perfect if he was dunking them in a glass of water before eating them, just to help them go down a bit smoother.

  6. Once a year (for the past 6 years now) I’ve been hosting a yearly “ladies spring brunch” at my house. It’s such a nice time to not be going out to bars but relaxing, talking and catching up with everyone and eating great food. Everyone looks forward to it every year. And since most of us are married and have kids, this is one of few chances to just hang with a bunch of girls.

    Your idea of having a regular event like this is great though! We certainly don’t get to see our friends as much as we would like, or relax as much either. This would be a great excuse.

  7. A friend of mine’s dad, after becoming disgruntled with his church, but still wanting Sunday morning socializing, started hosting a weekly brunch called “Church of the Pina Colada”. When she told me about it, I adopted the name, although my event is only once a year. Hmm, actually, I’m due to plan that sometime soon…

  8. I really enjoy hosting brunch potlucks, but sadly, haven’t done so very often in the past year or so. I think it’s time this was reinstated! And since I’m the offbeat eater, it’s easiest for me to prepare my non-standard dishes in my own home (that way I don’t feel like I’m inconveniencing anyone). I’d love to achieve that family feeling your post evokes, but our brunches wouldn’t take place that often – our weekends are generally far too hectic. Still, I feel a brunch coming soon! It’s always fun hanging with my circle and their brood of two- and four-legged young’uns.

    And I am in awe of Tavi’s pancake-eating skills! He’s got a pretty slick technique.

    • Our group has a lot of restaurant-industry friends (which includes us). We were having a Monday afternoon party every week for a while, which allowed for a surprising number of people to show–Sundays and Mondays being the slowest in the business. Of course, the Tuesday night pub crawls are really the best…

  9. Sunday is Funday! Man I love brunch, too bad all our friends that used to do this have spread out over the country. We will have to bring this back sometime soon.

  10. Breakfast has always been my favorite meal of the day so needless to say, we are definitely the brunch hosters in our group, providing pancakes and 1 or sometimes 2 other dishes. Brunch feels so much easier and more relaxed/casual than having people over in the evening. Evening parties stress me out – morning parties are fun. They also work better if you’re friends with lots of parents with kids.

    A while back one of our friends was trying a wheat-free diet to see if it would help with his allergies and through him, we were introduced to spelt. We loved spelt pancakes so much (not nearly as heavy as whole wheat) that we still make spelt pancakes today (although we usually do 1/2 and 1/2, half whole wheat spelt, half unbleached white flour). White flour spelt is available but 100% spelt pancakes can be a little crumbly (but still very yummy). We make pancakes from scratch – it doesn’t take that much longer and I think they taste better.

  11. Tavi’s intense double fisted pancake eating technique is strangly transfixing….will he finish all those little pancakes? But it was a cliffhanger. Damn.

  12. I love breakfast. We also love to have a nice big brunch on Sundays. Although, it’s never occured to me to invite other people or even switch houses. It sounds totally amazing. I’m going to suggest it in my group of friends. Although, I KNOW our bacon will be the best. tricks!

  13. Love this idea! I have a ton of foodie friends so this could be a great tradition to start. My apartment is *miniature* though…maybe I’ll hit up some friends to host!

  14. My dude and I make it a habit to have a good breakfast at least once on the weekend, depending on his shift work, but doing a brunch potluck would rock. The only issue is that our friends have pretty diverse schedules. Some don’t live in the city, some go to church. Maybe it could become a Saturday thing once in a while. So far, one of our fave easy recipes is stuffed french toast: cinnamon cream cheese between two pieces of raisin bread, then treated like french toast. Mmmmm!

  15. Since moving into our new place, we’ve instituted Sunday “Porn and Pancakes” brunches with the other members of our burlesque troupe. We make piles of suggestively-shaped pancakes with many toppings and watch ridiculous porn(Pirates, Batman, Alice in Wonderland Musical Porn) which we laugh at and talk over most of the time. We’re a very odd bunch, but we’re a family, and we love our weekly get-togethers.

  16. We did this for New Year’s Day last year and the day after our wedding – but they were more “recovery” parties than independent brunches. For both we just set out all the still-good leftover food and a pile of morning friendly alcohol (leftover champagne for New Year’s, leftover vodka and whiskey – vodka for mimosas and bloody marys, whiskey for coffee) and let people laze around.

  17. We used to do this on Sunday nights in college. Everyone brought something and we’d sit around a shoot the shit. It was so much fun. I loved seeing what everyone would bring and watching bad sci-fi movies. I miss it, sadly most of our friends have moved out of the area or we’re all in crappy jobs that have odd times off/no weekends off so we’re kind of at a loss now.

  18. Sigh. I love many things about the picture of tiny pancakes but my favorite thing about it is that when you first see it, before you know you’re looking at tiny pancakes, you think, “MY GOD HOW BIG ARE THOSE BLUEBERRIES?!?”

  19. I can’t stop looking at the picture of those pancakes…. My Fiance had to tell me to stop staring…

    I need to go google the recipe now so I can make some…

  20. Some friends of my ex-boyfriend used to (and I imagine, still do) host parties all the time. And the morning after, we would always have “Low Budget Iron Chef” which, as you might imagine, involved two teams trying to make a themed meal, but all we had to use were leftover party food, and usually things like ramen noodles, tuna, and whatever spices and condiments were around. And there was only one stove, in a tiny kitchen. So much fun.

  21. Absolutely this!

    But I started the same thing after our son was born because I missed going out to dinner with friends (a logistical nightmare for me).

    So I started brunches in my home! Family friendly and I get to still enjoy what I miss about those dinners out: hanging out with friends over good food.

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