We’re cooking just like Grandma, but for the masses, every day
A day at The Old Mill Restaurant in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, isn’t measured in the hours we’re open, but in the effort our kitchen crew puts into cooking homestyle breakfasts, lunches, and dinners for about 3,000 guests each day. We cook more delicious comfort food in a single day than your grandma served in two decades of Sunday dinners.
Our kitchen staff of, a dozen or so at a time, begins cooking at 5 a.m., three hours before we open, and doesn’t finish until after we close at 9 p.m.
They take a quick inventory each morning to see what they need to restock on, including whole cuts of meat that we cut and grind ourselves for our meatloaf, ground round, prime rib, and ribeyes.
Our miller – yes, we have our own, onsite at our Historic Old Mill– grinds the cornmeal and grits, and blends the signature specialty mixes they need for home-cooked goodies like pancakes, corn fritters, biscuits, and the breading on fried chicken, pork chops, and country fried steak.
Our cooks start the typical day by preparing, 2,000 pancakes and 2,500 biscuits from scratch, which is done by one person flipping and another rolling and baking. Our jam maker in the Farmhouse Kitchen makes our homemade Triple Berry Jam that is served to each table at breakfast, coming to almost 4 gallons each day. Our grills stay hot all morning as 1,800 eggs are prepared to order while 700 slices of bacon and 800 pieces of sausage are cooked.
Next, the kitchen crew starts lunch and dinner. That means making 100 gallons of our homemade signature corn chowder (see us make it from scratch above), and batter for the 5,000 corn fritters we will fry to go with it. The crew has to start cooking some of the lunch and dinner entrees even before breakfast and then continue throughout the day to prepare 150 pounds of meatloaf, 70 gallons of chicken and dumplings, 400 pounds of fried chicken, 300 pounds of chicken tenders, and the 330 pieces of country fried steak that our team of two dozen waiters and waitresses will serve.
Want sides with that? Our cooks also make 110 gallons of green beans and 1,100 pounds of mashed potatoes. Believe it or not, one person will peel, cook, and mash all of those potatoes, 50 pounds at a time.
And no meal at The Old Mill Restaurant would be complete without dessert. To keep a supply on hand of our most popular dessert menu item, pecan pie, our bakers turn out 120 pecan pies each day with our secret family recipe. The Old Mill Creamery across the street churns 30 gallons of vanilla bean ice cream a day just for us, and that’s just a drop in the bucket (total pun intended!) of what they make for themselves.
Yes, all of this happens in one day!
The next day, the kitchen staff turns on the lights before the sun comes up and starts all over again.
We say our kitchen cooks like our grandmother would have done if 30 people were coming for Sunday dinner. But we multiply it by 10, and then do that 10 times over, because we have 3,000 people coming to eat. We think grandma would be proud, but it’s safe to say she could still teach us a thing or two.