3C’s Café opens in Highlander Inn
Chef Dennis Brunet will cater to you
By Linda A. Thompson-Odum email@example.com
When managers at the Highlander Inn in Manchester decided to upgrade their food service, they turned to Chef Dennis Brunet and 3C’s Catering. Brunet and his wife, Pam, moved their entire catering operation to the hotel’s conference center and are now responsible for all of the on-site food service, which includes the Cozy Culinary Café.
The catering business began in 1999 with a restaurant in Londonderry, which Brunet and his wife closed after a couple of years to concentrate on catering. He said 3C’s generated approximately half a million dollars in revenue from their corporate accounts, which include the Manchester Wolves and the Palace Theatre, before the move to the Highlander. Their outside catering customers span from the Seacoast into Massachusetts.
When Brunet and company moved in this past April, they redid everything, from the tabletops to the restaurant’s menu. Cozy Culinary Café opened May 1 with a full dinner menu, which was based on the one used in Londonderry. All the food is made in-house from scratch. That includes the mayonnaise (plain, roasted garlic, roasted red pepper, and tarragon), all the breads, and the 2,000 muffins produced by the pastry chef each week. The chocolate ganache brownies are mixed by hand, not machine. The carrot cake recipe is from the pastry chef’s mother, and the cheesecake is a Brunet family recipe.
Brunet is a third-generation chef. His grandfather and father owned a diner-style restaurant in Lowell, Mass. He went on to study at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y., was an apprentice in Switzerland, and then worked 15 years for Disney, which included three years at Euro Disney outside Paris.
The Cozy Culinary Café comprises a lounge, a veranda (where hotel guests enjoy continental breakfast) and a main dining room, all of which seats 120 people. Brunet shops for fresh produce each day at stores and farmers’ markets — it’s a value he picked up at Disney, where they have produce delivered twice each day.
The menu has a wide selection of salads, sandwiches and entrees. Highlights include the Highlander salad, made with mixed greens, fresh mozzarella, red onion, walnuts, and sliced strawberries and topped with a balsamic dressing. Burnet said two popular entrees are the seafood Alfredo (scallops, shrimp, and crab sautéed in garlic butter and herbs, finished with an Alfredo sauce and served over linguini) and the chicken Capri (boneless chicken breast sautéed with mushrooms, artichoke hearts and chopped tomatoes.) “You don’t normally see a lot of sauté dishes in hotel restaurants,” he noted.
For now, the restaurant is open only for dinner. Brunet plans to open for lunch by September and add a Sunday brunch menu. He also handles on-site catering needs. And the company continues to cater outside events.
“The challenge is getting people from outside of the hotel to come into the restaurant,” Brunet said. “But when you have a following like we do, that helps.”