IT’S billed as the most important meal of the day. So when it comes to serving breakfast to paying customers, it is make or break. You really don’t want vulcanised scrambled egg or a frazzled tattie scone to ruin the rest of someone’s day.

This is where John (not his real name) comes in.

What John doesn’t know about a full Scottish breakfast is not worth knowing. He reckons he’s eaten about 3000 of them over the past 22 years.

But this is not just an unusual lifestyle choice. It’s his job.

You see, John is an undercover hotel inspector for the AA and spends his working life rating hotels, B&Bs, restaurants with rooms, as well as camping and caravan sites. He travels across Scotland, conducting nearly 150 overnight inspections a year.

One key part of his work is assessing the quality of an establishment’s food.

“A good deal of an inspector’s job is benchmarking against other hotels, other foods and other breakfasts, so as a result I have been eating the same breakfast for the last 22 years,” he explained. “There is no getting away with just having toast.”

The Scottish version of a “full English” is usually augmented by Lorne sausage (aka square slice), black pudding, tattie scone and haggis. Add fruit pudding to really gird your loins for the day ahead.

In a job where the stakes are so high, John has become a master at staying under the radar until he’s ready to check out. He goes to some lengths to keep his real identity a secret from proprietors until then, especially if it’s an establishment he’s previously visited.

“I use different names each year, a different email address and home address so they can’t pick me up via their guest history on the reservations system,” he told BBC Scotland.

If proprietors suspect an inspection is afoot, John says the most common mistake they make is being too attentive to the guest that they think could be an inspector.

“During one meal, I was asked on 28 occasions if everything was satisfactory with my meal. In doing so, they were not paying attention to the other guests in the dining room at the same time as me.”

In reaching a rating for a hotel – which can be anything from one to five stars – John says its surroundings are less important than other factors.

“Cleanliness is key,” he explains. “Hospitality again is very important. It’s not service-related – offering you tea or coffee, for example – but asking ‘how was your day, what are your plans, how about this weather?’.”

So a good stay is not just down to a tasty slice of black pudding.

I can attest to this. One of the best weekends away we had was a trip to Prague. In the morning, we made our way down to the buffet breakfast where the choice was extensive.

There was the usual fare: cereal to sausages with everything in between.

What we hadn’t bargained for was soup.

Oh well, when in Prague …

For the full Scottish experience, just add lentils.