By Sarah Greaves-Gabbadon
CJ Travel Editor
If you’re planning a trip to Peter Island, the private island resort in the BVI, trust us when we tell you that there’s only one thing to order for breakfast.
But that’s not because there’s literally only one thing to order for breakfast at Tradewinds Restaurant; the impressive morning menu runs the gamut, from house-made granola to lobster scramble to a full-on buffet. It’s because the runaway hit on the resort’s breakfast menu is Jean Kelly’s Coconut-Crusted French Toast. And, like almost every other guest, you have to have it at least once (if not every morning).
Place your order and with impressive speed the sweet spread arrives at your table, four doorstops of thickly sliced fried bread, served with slices of banana, garnished with fresh coconut flakes, and accompanied by a vessel of warm pancake syrup. It looks like manna from heaven and it tastes like it, too, the crunch of the golden-brown bread crust giving way to a moist and fluffy texture. The local bananas add another almost tangy dimension of sweetness, further amplified by the pancake syrup. It adds up to a calorific and indulgent start to the day but it’s absolutely worth it – especially if you’re lucky enough to have the dish delivered by the woman it’s named for, Jean Kelly herself.
The oldest member of the Peter Island team, Miss Jean (also known as Mama Jean and Grandma Jean) has worked in the restaurant for more than 30 years. Wearing a personalized polo shirt and a yellow flower tucked into her hair, Miss Jean works the dining room like a pro, going from table to table saying good morning, cooing over babies and enquiring how guests slept. She moves with an energy we all wish we could possess at 71, and emanates a warmth so genuine and comforting that you feel as if she’s your own grandmother. Over the decades Miss Jean has become the unofficial ambassador of Peter Island, so it’s no wonder that back in 2010 a dish was named in her honor and to celebrate her contributions to the resort.
Originally it was going to be eggs Benedict, Miss Jean reveals, but she demurred because she’s “not really an egg person.” She and chef finally settled on French toast, which met her approval. Since then that seal of approval has been seconded by thousands of Peter Island guests, many of whom no longer even bother to look at the menu. “You know what I want,” we overheard one guest say to his waitress, playfully waving away the menu she attempted to set down.
“French toast again?” she asked.
Breakfast isn’t breakfast without it,” he replied.
And at Peter Island, that’s a fact.