Many of us believe that “brunch” is the greatest contraction in the human language: a special day devoted to sleeping until noon, getting dressed in your prettiest Sunday morning colors, and indulging in decadent breakfast dishes while we sip on bottomless mimosas. Brunch is one of America’s great weekly traditions, and restaurants are popping up that specialize in brunch, becoming Sunday Morning hot spots for those tired from a hard week of work and a fun Saturday night.
Real chefs, however, know the secrets behind the boozy Sunday past-time and choose not to participate.
In Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential, the famed chef and TV star reveals that brunch is simply “an open invitation to the cost-conscious chef,” claiming that restaurants make use of all the leftover nibbles from the busy Friday and Saturday nights.
Along with the days-old food, the staff is likely not the cream-of-the-crop either. Sundays are usually when the B-Team cooks the food, and, according to Bourdain, brunch is a cook’s least favorite meal to prepare. “We all hate the smell and spatter of omelettes. We despise hollandaise, home fries, and all the other cliché accompaniments designed to induce a credulous public into paying $12.95 for two eggs,” he says in a New Yorker article revealing some of the secrets behind the New York food scene.
Brunch items are also primarily made-to-order, which makes the cooks even more salty, as the customers prefer their eggs to be prepared flawlessly, substituting sourdough for wheat toast and adjusting sides as well. The cooks are responsible for preparing dozens of unique dishes all at once, making it extremely tedious.
Even worse, Sunday mornings are when the tips seem to be the lowest, possibly due to hungover diners and slower service as a result of such customized orders. The wait staff hates to give up their Sunday mornings to serve brunch, and smaller tips than usual makes matters worse.
And turns out, everyone’s favorite French emulsion, Hollandaise sauce, is a cesspool for bacteria that can cause food-borne illness. After an outbreak of food poisoning from a favorite Los Angeles brunch spot in 2007, it was determined that the Eggs Benedict, glorified with Hollandaise sauce, was the culprit of the diners contracting salmonella.
The reason for the high risk of food-borne illness in Hollandaise sauce is because it is a mixture of seasoned liquid butter and egg yolk which is not fully cooked. Additionally, it is served cold, making it even more attractive to bacteria. The eggs are either contaminated or not prior to to being used by a food provider, but cooking the eggs removes the risk of illness.
The restaurant in Los Angeles now uses non-organic pasteurized eggs to further protect their brunch fans from salmonella.
If you’re a brunch-fanatic like me, your reaction to reading this article probably went a little something like this:
However, brunch is still a fabulous way to spend a slow Sunday morning (or entire day if you’re really into it), so don’t let any professional chefs discourage you from indulging any differently. Anyway, it’s likely that even restaurants’ weekly leftovers are better than what you have available in your pantry on a Sunday morning.
So, on that note…