Being a part of a French kitchen in a restaurant is like a baptism in fire. Apprentices have only a few seconds to impress and, as per Yves Camdeborde, owner of Paris’s four Avant-Comptoir establishments, they are often given a job whose outward simple appearance hides the true sophistication. The goal is to earn favor; failing demonstrates that one hasis a long way to go. This is the job that restaurants play, from the corner to Michelin-starred dining areas of the omelet.
A French Omelette, Camdeborde explained, stands apart from other versions in which fillings are mixed with eggs.
“We make an envelope,” he stated. “We fill it, and we roll.”
The omelet you make will appear pale white on the outside. It should have a base (literally, “drooling”) inside. And Camdeborde must be aware.
He remembered his certification of aptitude (CAP) professional qualification in a tale he’d repeated many times before. The tasks of apprentices were assigned randomly, he explained, and the 16-year-old Camdeborde was given an omelet au delicates herbs (an omelet filled with spices).
“I think I got 17 or 18 (out of 20),” he told me. “I was top of my CAP class – thanks to the omelette!”
His score earned him a spot in the regional Meilleur Apprenti de France (Best Apprentice in France) competition among “kids from two- and three-Michelin-starred restaurants.”
“I was the only one who came from a littleneighborhoodd bistro,” he stated. In this contest, too, it was decided that he would make the egg, which earned him the chance to compete in the finals in Paris. The young apprentice created one final egg and was allowed to participate in a final competition.
The next task was much more difficult. He was tasked with making slow-cooked veal Choisy and white wine sauce, braised lettuce, and sole souffle, in which the delicate fish is filled with a creamy mushroom. He had never known about the elaborate meals or even made them. When he was finished with the ninth dish and bursting into tears, he was elated as he tugged at the heartstrings of the chef of cuisine.
Fried Lardo gives the omelet soul (Credit: Emily Monaco)
“He said, ‘Listen, it’s not a big deal. In life, we’re alwayslearning’,” said Camdeborde. “‘If you want, I’ll hire you.’ He was the chef of the Ritz.”
Camdeborde has since been a chef at The Michelin-starred Tour d’Argent, transformed Parisian dining by pioneering the bistronomy movement, and judged the four seasons of MasterChef France. It all started with an omelet.
Indeed, his proficiency in the dish wasn’t a coincidence. When he was 14, in the southwestern region of France in southwestern France, the Pau native was preparing to begin training in a restaurant serving locals where omelets were a regular specialty.
“We had maybe 30omeletss on the menu,” He said, and estimated after a quick calculation that he could have “easily” made about 20,000 during his two years at the restaurant. In that moment, “you can do it with your eyes closed.”
He starts with fresh eggs, three eggs per person. He also says that eggs “need fat.”
Yves Camdeborde gently stirs the eggs until they are just beginning to set. (Credit: Emily Monaco)
“Forflavorr, ideally, you want pork fat,” he explained while frying coppa and lardo in a drop of oil until they were translucent. “It gives the dish soul.”
After the fat has been rendered, he advised to avoid breaking eggs if they are broken. “Once you crack them,” he explained, “they liquify and lose their structure.”
He gently whisked the eggs before adding them to the hot oil and stirred them with a spoon until they became set.
“When an egg cooks too much, it loses its creaminess,” said the man. On top of the still-running eggs, he spread the filling, in this instance crisp Charcuterie and some coriander, before the most complex rolling procedure.
Camdeborde’s movements were precise and familiar. Holding the fork, the chef lifted the one edge of the egg and folded it lightly on top of the filling. A small amount of butter slipped underneath to help release the omelet. The ends were gently pushed towards the back, similar to folding burritos. The fork slid away, and Camdeborde struck the panhandle with his hand to help encourage the omelet’s advancing trajectory as he slid his pan and plate, letting gravity do the rest of the work. The perfect pale pillow fell effortlessly onto the plate.
“Once you’ve mastered it, it doesn’t take long,” he told me, adding a garnish to the rest of the Charcuterie.
After adding the coriander and Charcuterie, The omelet is then made into a ball (Credit: Emily Monaco)
Modern Parisian menus are lacking in omelets. As Camdeborde noted, many chefs found the dish “banal.” For him, however, an omelet should be as comfy with gingham as linen and is accompanied by “caviar as a bit of lard.”
An omelet would be most enjoyable at home. In all likelihood, Eggs are intended for his family of four, “often on a Sunday night” and contrary to the pond-crossing obsession with breakfast eggs, a habit that he called “very Anglo-Saxon, like eating blood sausage in the morning.”
At his father’s farm, the Camdeborde family ate omelets for dinner “at least once a week. At least“. They were made with eggs from their chickens and stuffed with canned tomatoes or peas from home. The omelets were drenched with a hint of Banyuls vinegar, the secret sauce of his father.
This kind of omelet can easily feed a large number of people. Camdeborde remembers his father mixing around 20 eggs. If you had the right pan, it could still be cooked in minutes.
“There’s a festive quality to it,” he added with an old-fashioned smile. When I was a teen, following the night of sexy with rugby buddies till the early hours of the morning, “I knew I could wake Dad and say, ‘Dad, there’s 10 of us… could you make us an omelette?'”
Yves Camdeborde bangs the handle of the pan to roll the perfect omelet on the dish (Credit: Emily Monaco)
The recipe of Yves-Camdeborde’s Omelette recipe
By Yves Camdeborde
Makes 1 Omelette
One teaspoon of peanut oil
Three thin slices of lardo
Three thin slices of coppa
Add salt or pepper according to your taste
Unsalted butter taste
One small handful of chopped coriander
A few drops of vinegar from Banyuls (optional)