April 4, 2011

Putting on their Sunday Best

Sunday is a day of worship at the First Parish Church — but it’s also a day of incredible breakfasts. 
Alice Boucher gets ready to serve up a plate of cookedto- order food as part of
First Parish Church Best Breakfast Team 1. 
Union Leader Correspondent
Diane Gordon, left, has been an active part of the weekly
Best Breakfast for about seven years.
 On Sunday, she split her giant blueberry
pancakes with husband, Kevin, seated next to her. 
Arlo Wetherbee, 15, was on coffee detail
during Sunday’s Best Breakfast.
DERRY -- On Sundays for more than a quartercentury, members of First Parish Church have been breaking bread together — along with hundreds of thousands of eggs.
“They began the breakfasts when they put this addition onto the church, to offset the mortgage payment,” said Kevin Gordon, who is a member of one of the four cooking squads that take turns making Sunday breakfast for a hungry crowd each week by bringing something unique to the table,
 quite literally.
“We like to do quiche,” said Gordon’s wife, Diane. “Jack did Irish eggs Benedict on St.
Patrick’s day.”
 She is referring to fellow church member Jack Leonard, who was back behind the griddle this past Sunday, along with his wife, Nancy. 

Two of their three kids, Sara, 22, and Michael, 16, were helping get the orders straight in the kitchen. While her husband’s fluffy omelets were in high demand, her own fruity hotcakes were selling like, well, hotcakes. 
“They’re made with love — that’s why they’re so big,” said Jack Leonard of his wife’s extra-large griddle cakes. 
“Our other daughter, Melissa, gets to sleep in today because she worked late last night,” said Nancy Leonard, while expertly flipping a pair of 8-inch blueberry pancakes and a double order of extrathick Texas-style french toast. On any given Sunday Best Breakfast, as it’s known at First Parish, includes eggs cooked to order; five different kinds of omelets; bacon; sausage; pancakes; french toast; hash browns; home fries; English muffins; varieties of toast; cereal; coffee; tea; hot chocolate; juice; or milk, in any combination or quantity. 
Cost is $6.50 for adults; $5.50 for kids 12 and younger or seniors 62 and older. 
“Best Breakfast is an outreach. If you look around at the tables of people, most of them are church members. 
This provides a way to talk to one another for an hour or so, a way to get to know one another better outside of Sunday worship,” Diane Gordon said. 
As the Gordons finish up what’s left on their plates, Diane Gordon nods toward an empty table behind them, set and waiting for the next round of breakfast guests. 
It’s a reserved table, by default. 
“A group of seniors sits there every week. They arrive right at 7 a.m., and over the years we’ve gotten to know them quite well. It’s a lot of fun,” Gordon said. 
Diane Gordon lifts a 32ounce jug of pure maple syrup and douses her monster blueberry pancakes. 
“One of our members donates it — her parents make their own syrup in Vermont,” she said. 
Another cooking team member, Becky Fleury, always brings cinnamon raisin bread from her bakery at Sunnycrest Farms in Londonderry, which is transformed into extra tasty french toast. 
This particular Sunday, making it all happen meant getting up around 4 a.m. 
for the Leonard family. By 5 a.m. Jack Leonard was in the church kitchen doing some prep work. His wife arrived by 5:30 a.m. 
By 9:10 a.m. the Leonards were plating the last of the breakfast orders, which had been coming in steadily for two hours. 
“We just enjoy being part of this,” said Nancy Leonard, sliding the last two pancakes on a china plate. “It’s a lot of work, but it’s a lot of fun."

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