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Half Baked: Cooking Brunch for Hundreds

"The season ended." It's an answer he's heard many times. He continues scanning over my resume, muttering to himself.

"So, how are your eggs?"

I'd rehearsed this answer but I already knew what was coming.

"They're pretty good -- but it has been awhile," I answered with just the right combination of confidence and hesitation. Wait for it...

"Great! Cause we do brunch on Sundays. You'll pick it up again no problem." He banged his hand on the table and stuck it out to shake mine. So I got the job and faced serving brunch to Boynton Beach every Sunday. Ugh...

Typically, a cook starts dreading brunch by Thursday, planning it Friday, prepping for it on Saturday, and executes it Sunday; and so went my week.

Sluggish from Friday and Saturday's busy service, we shuffle in earlier than normal Sunday morn. I am the egg station (oh bliss), so I race to get my mise set up because once that first ticket rings in, I'll be stuck at my station.

Servers start ringing in their breakfast, whether I'm ready or not. I quickly bang out their food warming up for real guests, who start walking in right after I've finished feeding the staff. The board warms up in a steady stream of putting up a ticket and another walking in. All the orders are for eggs.

"The secret to cooking eggs is controlling the heat on your pans. And a real French style omelet is yellow and fluffy," my chef mentor taught me years ago, "SO I BETTER NOT SEE BROWN ON YOUR OMELETS!" I hear these words in my head every time I crack an egg.

Meanwhile, I'm well underway while the rest of the staff is in Sunday mode. Slow setting up, no mise prepared, but still taking the time to make a hearty breakfast.

The first two hours crawl by and after a while of the staff grazing and eggs splattering, the rush hits. I'm thankful I didn't chow down with the others, as I notice the broiler next to me ready for a nap on the floor.

"You ok?" My sous chef notices the board filling up.

"Yeah," I toss a pasta, flip an omelet, sear a salmon, just going down my row of burners. Plates are stacking up in the window; food's not going out fast enough. This could really back me up if I have to start re-making eggs. (Once eggs hit the window, you have 90 seconds to sell them  before they go rubber). Soon I have no place to put anything, so things sit in their pan for a sec.

I turn back to my over easies in a pan and flip them. A stream of yellow.  Alright -- toss them and re-make. I grab two more eggs; yolk breaks the second as it hits the pan. Crap! Two more eggs. Again, broken yolk. Eight eggs later, flip, yolk, CRAP!

"Over easies sell me," the expo calls out.

"30 seconds!" I call out. I'm getting behind on tickets. I plate what's in front of me and wipe the yolk off the plate as I throw it in the window.

I take a sec to breathe and calm down; you need soft hands to handle eggs. An hour straight of a full board and we finally start to slow down. I start to wipe down the dry egg splatter and diced omelet fixings.

"How was it?" my Sous asks. "I didn't get a good look at the plates, but I know a lot of breakfast stuff went out. Pretty easy stuff, right?" I agreed.

"Yeah, it's just the volume that's tough," she hands me labels. I wrap my leftover omelete ingredients and snicker, noticing that even the day labels for Sunday are black. 


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Patty Canedo

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