There’s a belief that each fold in the original toque (the tall pleated hat symbolizing the head chef) represented the mastery of an egg technique. 30 folds meant 30 different techniques. Looking at Chef’s Le Cordon Bleu toque I notice there must be about 40 folds. How many egg techniques are there, I wonder? And then I imagine my toque: two folds: scrambled and fried.
I have been dreading this section from the beginning. I feel that I should have arrived with more skills in the egg department. And it’s not from a lack of trying. Many mornings I have tried to flip an omelet, with my biggest success coming when half of it landed back in the pan. I’ve tried the poached egg more than a dozen times in my life, each one looking the same–some sort of sea monster with long stringy tentacles. The final one, soufflé, I have successful managed on multiple occasions with an electric mixer. But today it will need beaten to stiff peaks by hand.
I arrived early at the demonstration to get a front row seat and I see the ingredients Chef will be using for today’s demonstration: eggs, cheese, eggs, cheese, cream and more eggs. It’s time to get over my “egg-ophobias” and learn the technique. Certainly Cordon Bleu will be more successful than Youtube in teaching me to poach an egg, so it’s time to focus and learn.
On the way home today, I stop at the grocer and pick up some eggs. They come in a pack of 10 which should be enough to practice. I’m very excited to try the omelette. Chef says you hold the pan with your right hand and with your left, hit the top of your right wrist. The pan will jerk and flip the omelette. Yes, his flips perfectly. In fact, he flips it twice to make sure the seam lies underneath, leaving a beautiful almond shape to his omelet. Wow — two flips and all in the pan. But he’s Chef. At home, I excitedly pull out the omelette pan I had bought a few years ago (in the hope of finally flipping an omelette) and break up my eggs. One, two, three eggs — all ready to go. And now the moment — it flips and lands back! Wow — it worked!!! But maybe that was beginner’s luck. I try again — yes! Another thre- egg omelet- two flips and a beautiful almond shape! Hurrah!
Chef Ogata’s Omelet
So if I can flip an omelet, how about a poached egg? Chef says he can’t tell us the exact timing for poaching as each egg has a different water content, so it’s all by feel. But that’s assuming the egg is egg-shaped and not sea monster-shaped. I boil water and follow Chef’s instructions carefully, placing the egg into the boiling water. And it worked!!!! I realized I had been dumping my egg from about six inches above the water, which is why I was making a boiled egg mess.
Just as I finished my pack of eggs, my husband called to say he was on the way home. I ask him to pick up a another package of eggs so I can show him my new party tricks. If I can do it under pressure here, I can do it tomorrow. And so with 10 more eggs, I flip two more omelettes and poach four more eggs. Success! Yes, my toque folds have increased 100%
I look at the clock and realize my kids will be home soon from school – should I get 10 more eggs and show them too? Caught up in the excitement, I was just about to send my husband out for another package of eggs when I look around my kitchen and see 20 cooked eggs. Oh wow, that’s a lot of eggs! And I’ll bring home food from tomorrow’s egg lesson too. That’s really a lot of eggs. Well, I guess I know what’s for dinner tonight: omelets, poached eggs, bread, and salad.
Chef Ogata’s Poached Egg in Puff Pastry