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INN Life: Innkeeping Chefs

Innkeeping Chefs - The Swans

Gail and Ralph Swan, The Swan and The Peacock Bed and Breakfast, Ayr, Ontario

Gail and Ralph Swan, The Swan and The Peacock Bed and Breakfast, Ayr, Ontario 

Quiet village life was just perfect for murder, according to Dame Agatha Christie, so coming to The Swan and The Peacock Bed and Breakfast for a little taste of murder seems just right for the village of Ayr, Ontario, close to Mennonite country. Dating from the 1920s, the era that launched murder mysteries to popularity, this historically elegant home offers a Murder Mystery Weekend, which culminates in a four-course dinner, during which guests struggle to discover ‘whodunit’. “Years ago, my sister-in-law invited us to one, and we loved it,” says Gail Swan, innkeeper. “Because we loved doing the murder mysteries ourselves so much, we thought it would be a unique way for people to come to our B&B for a weekend.”

Each Murder Mystery is set to a theme, and Gail plans the menu to match. “I try to make the experience as authentic as possible,” she explains. “The Mexican theme serves Mexican food, for the Italian we serve pasta, and so on.” From the appetizer through soup and salad, the main course and dessert, the murder is key, but culinary special requests are welcome. There is even a Colorado Beer tasting theme, for which all the dishes are made with beer as an ingredient. Of course the California Wine theme dishes are made with California wine, even down to the cheesecake. So far, these innkeepers have the makings of 21 different themes to choose from.

Of course the Murder Mystery Weekends require more preparation for both guests and innkeepers, than the bed and breakfast’s usual guest stay, but that doesn’t seem to deter anyone. What drove Gail and Ralph Swan to murder? “Meeting great people,” says Gail. “Everyone has a wonderful time, even if no one figures out whodunit!”

The Swan and The Peacock Bed and Breakfast
Ayr, Ontario


Danielle Deschamps-Stabler, at The Mast Farm Inn, Valle Crucis, North Carolina

Danielle Deschamps-Stabler, at The Mast Farm Inn, Valle Crucis, North Carolina

Danielle Deschamps-Stabler, at The Mast Farm Inn, Valle Crucis, North Carolina

Here in the idyllic Appalachians of North Carolina, come to the historic rural Valle Crucis.  Listed on the American National Register of Historic Places, The Mast Inn became home for the Deschamps in February of 2006. Innkeeper-Chef, Danielle Deschamps shares the joy and work of the Inn with her Executive Chef mother, Marie Dechamps, and many other family members, all sharing the love of gourmet. “When we moved to North Carolina and my parents bought the Inn,” says Danielle, “my mother and I took over the kitchen. It was amazing.”

Danielle began her love affair with cooking, in college. Today, she divides her attention between the kitchen and innkeeping. “I would say the greatest challenge is balancing your time,” she says. “I have to set specific dates where I am chef, and others where I am inn keeper/wedding planner.”

The Mast Inn will treat you to the best of local ingredients, with the finest gourmet menus.  Plus, there’s the home-made touch. Danielle points out that it’s her mother, Marie who does “all the amazing baking. My, oh my, her magic bars could make you melt!” says Danielle.

The love of food is in Danielle’s genes, but being a Chef-Innkeeper is not just about the cooking. “I can’t explain the feeling when you walk out onto the dining room floor and everyone starts clapping!” she says.  “You spend so much time each day preparing this amazing food and then, to see a happy customer and have the waitress tell you that was the best meal of their lives, that is why I do this!”

The Mast Farm Inn
Valle Crucis, North Carolina

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