Q&A: Ashley and Glenn Mon
Proprietors of Hamanassett B&B
What makes the Brandywine Valley such a rich culinary destination for groups?
Glenn: Close to Philadelphia, we are a landing ground for top talent, from Stephen Starr and Jose Garces to Laurel’s Nicholas Elmi, the most recent winner of Bravo’s Top Chef. Add unique dining experiences such as Styer’s Garden Cafe in nearby Glen Mills, where guests dine in an antique greenhouse, and the region’s agricultural abundance, and you have the ready ingredients for culinary success.
How do you put these ingredients to work for your guests?
Ashley: Along with our signature breakfasts, we offer the Brandywine Country Cooking School here at our inn, built in 1856, with hands-on instruction in our professional kitchen. We enliven our regularly scheduled classes by basing them on themes, such as New Orleans Mardi Gras, French Country Cooking and the always-popular Last Dinner on the Titanic. Ideal for private parties and corporate retreats, we also offer custom programs for groups, including for the many corporations nearby and in the wider region. My special ingredient? Southern-style hospitality with vintage English charm.
With much local bounty at hand, do you extend your programs beyond the kitchen?
Ashley: Absolutely. What better than to take groups to market or directly to the source? For our Brandywine Bounty program, we spend half the day gathering ingredients from a local Amish farmers market. We have taken groups to local mushroom farms—the Brandywine is America’s leading producer—and fished for trout at the 1704 Newlin Grist Mill.
Why is F&B such an important form of engagement for groups?
Glenn: In my 30-plus years managing major venues around the U.S., including hosting 13 Super Bowls, major rock acts and the 1984 Olympics, I learned the value of combining a unique experience with top service. For corporate groups especially, our hands-on interaction in the kitchen achieves both, creating an opportunity to engage socially while teaching a fresh perspective on teamwork, common goals and other business themes.