THE FIVE
GOOD EGGS
FROM A LONDON LEGEND TO A DUTCH COOK GROWING HIS
RESTAURANT’S PRODUCE IN A GREENHOUSE, FIVE EXCITING
CHEFS AROUND THE GLOBE CELEBRATE THE SPLENDID
VERSATILITY OF THE HUMBLE EGG
  • 01
  • BAS WIEGEl
  • DE KAS, AMSTERDAM, THE NETHERLANDS

“The food we serve is pretty basic,” says Bas Wiegel, chef at the restaurant and nursery De Kas in Amsterdam, “but with a lot of respect for nature.” The cooking at De Kas is all about simplicity and flavor, using seasonal produce that is grown on-site to its fullest natural potential in an adjacent garden and greenhouse. “Everything we serve is Dutch – even down to the cheese.” Naturally, a local farmer delivers their eggs.

“You always need eggs,” says Bas, “and I like to know where they come from. I’ve been to the farm we use, and they provide some of the best eggs I’ve ever tasted.” Wiegel stresses the importance of using unpasteurized eggs for a “fuller, more rounded” flavor – a high priority when creating vegetarian dishes, a particular passion of his.

“My father always said that it’s more difficult to cook perfect vegetables than fish or meat,” he says. “I think it’s a marker of a good chef. Obviously, eggs are great in that respect because they can offer a richness, a sense of luxury with the clean, natural flavors of vegetables.” Freshness, however, is key.

“We often poach an egg for a main dish – a process that demands absolute freshness,” says Bas, “but we also use them a lot in our dairy ice creams. Our prune ice cream has been a particular favorite in the past.”

Eggs are an essential feature of the restaurant’s pastry offering. At any one time Wiegel might go through “up to 1,000 eggs a week”, particularly if the much-fabled chocolate nemesis – a giant, sliceable truffle – is on the menu. “It’s a method that, again, requires freshness,” he explains. “When you make a parfait, the mix takes the air better when the egg is fresh and the flavor is more even. People come back and ask for this dish even when we don’t have it.”

TEXT BY ELEANOR MORGAN
PHOTOGRAPHY BY TRENT MCMINN

restaurantdekas.nl

CHOCOLATE NEMESIS

Makes one cake

Melt 675 grams of bitter chocolate and 450 grams of butter together in a bain-marie. In a separate bowl, mix 10 fresh eggs and 450 grams of sugar together until the sugar is incorporated. Add the egg mixture to the melted chocolate. Mix gently and, when it comes together, add 50 grams of cocoa powder. Bake at 150 degrees C (about 300 degrees F) for approximately 25 minutes. Allow the nemesis to cool completely before slicing.

  • 02
  • MARGOT HENDERSON
  • ROCHELLE CANTEEN, LONDON, UK

Henderson, the New Zealand-born chef-proprietor of Rochelle Canteen in London, co-owner of the hugely successful Arnold & Henderson catering business and, of course, wife of Fergus Henderson, co-founder of the restaurant St. John and an all-around food legend, loves eggs: “I think they’re one of the most wonderful things you can eat,” she enthuses.

Gulls’ eggs are Margot’s favorite. “Black-headed gulls’ eggs with celery salt on top is probably up there on the last-meal list for me,” she says. “They’re so expensive, glamorous and ultra-delicate. I love the romance of their incredibly short season – around three to four weeks from May 1 – and the way they are collected.” The dusky-blue speckled eggs can only be gathered from their steep, cliffside nests by licensed eggers who will guard the gulls’ nests from foxes and other predators. “They’re gentle things but taste slightly gamey. Often on my birthday Fergus will bring trays of them home and invite people round for lunch. We’ll all crowd round the table to eat these wonderful treasures.”

Another favorite egg of Henderson’s is that laid by bantams. “They’re quite small eggs with lovely blue shells,” she says. “A soft-boiled Bantam egg on a piece of gem lettuce with a good anchovy is a heavenly bite, and one that always goes down well on catering jobs.”

“Eggs can also make an excellent sauce,” Henderson continues. “There is nothing nicer than a well-made mayonnaise, which of course is made from raw egg yolks. I also love sauce gribiche, a mayo-like egg sauce from France that blends hard-boiled egg yolks and mustard with oil and spiky things like capers, cornichons and herbs like tarragon, parsley and chervil. It’s fantastic over poached leeks.”

TEXT BY ELEANOR MORGAN
PHOTOGRAPHY BY TRENT MCMINN

arnoldandhenderson.com

LEEKS GRIBICHE

Serves four

For the gribiche, soft-boil 6 eggs and set aside. Chop 4 leeks, 2 tablespoons of cornichons, 1 tablespoon of tarragon, 1 tablespoon of curly parsley, 1 tablespoon of chervil and 2 cloves of garlic. In a bowl, whisk together a large dash of white wine vinegar, the juice of one lemon and 2 teaspoons of Dijon mustard. Slowly add 400 milliliters of extra-virgin olive oil while whisking to create an emulsion. Finely chop the 6 eggs and stir into the emulsion with the chopped ingredients and 2 tablespoons of fine capers. Wash and trim the leeks, removing the dark green portion. Split halfway down the middle and blanch in a large pot of boiling water until cooked. Put the leeks on a plate and pour the gribiche sauce over one end.

  • 03
  • KAMILLA SEIDLER
  • GUSTU, LA PAZ, BOLIVIA

When the Danish chef Kamilla Seidler was invited by Claus Meyer, who co-founded Noma, to co-run the restaurant and culinary school at the groundbreaking Gustu in Bolivia, it was like starting from scratch, despite her training at the two-Michelin-starred Mugaritz and Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons. “I had never come across 70 percent of the ingredients we now use,” says Kamilla. Entirely product-driven, the menu evolves every three months around seasonal produce, with new ingredients – from Amazonian larvae to cochayuyo seaweed – introduced daily. “We are under a constant, comfortable pressure to experiment – you don’t want to miss exploring an ingredient’s potential before it disappears for another year,” she explains.

Innovating with ingredients is just part of Kamilla’s ongoing adaptation process. “La Paz is located at almost 4,000 feet, so even the most basic principals of cooking are different,” she says. “Take boiling an egg – the low air pressure reduces the boiling point to 86 degrees.” Like everything at Gustu, eggs are 100 percent Bolivian-produced, sourced from a farmer who tends 1,000 Spanish hens 373 kilometers (about 232 miles) from La Paz, which produce “beautiful, big yellow yolks with rich shells.”

Save for whites used in desserts and cocktails, eggs feature prominently in just one dish that has remained on the menu since the 2012 launch. The Bolivian carbonara combines palm heart spaghetti sourced from the Tucano tribe in the Amazon, alpaca jerky (charque)from the Altiplano and organic brown butter and eggs. “We cook the eggs for 40 minutes at 52 degrees Celsius in a bain-marie – the secret is a minute per gram – so the yolk poaches perfectly but the egg white falls away when cracked.” A labor-intensive dish that takes about 35 seconds to consume.

TEXT BY LAUREN HOLMES
PHOTOGRAPHY BY CRISTOBAL PALMA

restaurantgustu.com

BOLIVIAN PALM HEART
CARBONARA

Serves one

Shred 17 grams of palm hearts as finely as possible into long strands. Keep refrigerated. Then poach the egg at 58 degrees C (136 degrees F) for 50 minutes. Melt 13 grams of brown butter over low heat until the milk solids become brown. Poach the charque (South American meat jerky) in warm water for 2 hours, then boil for 30 minutes. Shred meat as finely as possible into long strands. Fry in oil for 30 seconds until crispy.

  • 04
  • DUANGPORN SONGVISAVA AND DYLAN JONES
  • BO.LAN, BANGKOK, THAILAND

Bo.lan, in the smart Sukhumvit district of Bangkok, is world renowned for its vibrant dishes that are equally lively on the palate. Run by the husband-and-wife chef team Duangporn “Bo” Songvisava and Dylan “Lan” Jones, Bo.lan – a portmanteau of the chefs’ names – eschews the oversweetened green curries loved by tourists, offering instead a modern, seasonally driven interpretation of Thai cuisine through its mix of high-end, palace-style cooking and fiercely spiced street food characteristic of the region. Think of dishes like pineapple-cured fish simmered in coconut cream served with grilled quail, or stir-fried Ranong squid with salted duck egg.

Eggs play a significant role as an accompaniment in Thai cuisine, says Duangporn. “We eat spicy,” she says, “so having a soft-boiled egg, with the creaminess from the yolk, provides a foil for the fierceness we love, like the way yogurt is used in the Middle East. We have a grilled aubergine salad dish on the menu with a very potent dressing that is soothed by a soft-boiled egg on the side.” The richness and texture of eggs is also used to form the base of dishes. “Preserved eggs, for example, a much-loved thing in the past, have been turned into salads, relishes and curries,” says Dylan.

As in other nations, eggs provide a common source of comfort for people in Thailand. “My ultimate comfort dish would be a soft-boiled or poached egg over rice,” Duangporn says, “with lots of fish sauce and chili over the top.” For the Australian-born Dylan, his relationship with eggs has changed slightly since being in the East. “Eggs have always served a greater purpose in Thai food, but I still love my two eggs on toast in the morning.”

TEXT BY ELEANOR MORGAN
PHOTOGRAPHY BY CHRISTOPHER WISE

bolan.co.th

GRILLED AUBERGINE SALAD WITH
RIVER PRAWN

Serves one

Grill 2 mini aubergines and let them cool before removing the skins. Grill 1 river or king prawn until medium to well done, covering it toward the end to make the meat puff up. Combine 2 to 3 tablespoons of lime juice, 1 teaspoon of chili powder, 2 tablespoons of sugar and 3 tablespoons of fish sauce to create the dressing, maintaining a balance of hot, sour, salty and sweet. Toss the aubergine, prawn – with head removed – and dressing together and plate with 1 tablespoon of toasted rice, 1 tablespoon of dried prawn floss, 2 small deep-fried chilies and 1 soft-boiled duck egg on the side.

  • 05
  • MICHELLE BERNSTEIN
  • MICHY’S, MIAMI, USA

As a child training to be a prima ballerina, the Miami-born Michelle Bernstein would fall asleep over her mother’s cookbooks, dreaming of dishes intrinsic to her Latin-Jewish heritage. After ballet got the boot when she turned 18, she dived into her primary passion, working in Washington, D.C., under Michelin-starred mentor Jean-Louis Palladin until her culinary DNA was wired like that of a meticulous French master. Bernstein developed a unique style focused on clean, powerful flavors during four years at Azul, in the Mandarin Oriental in Miami (2001-2005), and that carried over to Michy’s, which she opened in 2006.

At Michy’s, a restaurant where Bernstein deftly combines locally sourced Asian ingredients with Latin inspirations and classic French techniques, eggs provide a backbone to a menu that changes monthly. A sign of Miami’s changing times, 60 percent of the ingredients are now locally sourced, an impossibility 10 years ago when the region had but a handful of producers, though local organic produce remains a luxury. Sixty dozen eggs, often double-yoked, are delivered weekly to Michy’s, to be poached atop creamy polenta or whipped into a sherry zabaglione, or to provide the sous vide dipping center for a white pizza.

Bernstein’s love of eggs is such that she also offers them as sides, with style recommendations indicated by an asterisk next to each dish. Come December, Michy’s will reopen after a makeover, dressing down from its fine-dining roots to attract a younger crowd to sip cocktails, share small plates overlooking the once-edgy Biscayne Boulevard, and observe the open-plan kitchen, where homemade pasta dangles from the ceiling. Bernstein reviews her new menu and comments, “You’ll be able to order an egg with almost anything.”

TEXT BY LAUREN HOLMES
PHOTOGRAPHY BY DANIEL SHEA

michysmiami.com

OPEN-FACED LASAGNA WITH
POACHED VEGETABLES, EGGS AND DASHI

Serves four

Blanch 2 cups of chopped carrots, 16 green beans, 8 yellow heirloom cherry tomatoes and 2 cups of trimmed broccoli florets until tender, and then shock in cold water. Blanch 8 shiitake mushrooms, cut in half and allow to cool. Add 2 tablespoons of butter and the vegetables to ½ cup of reduced, homemade dashi broth. Poach 4 eggs and set aside. In a pot of boiling water, cook eight 2-inch-square sheets of homemade lasagna, then drain and toss with 1 tablespoon of butter. Place one sheet of pasta in 4 separate bowls. Top each bowl with vegetables, dashi broth and finish with the poached egg, then another sheet of pasta.