One of the famous stories about Paul Bocuse concerns his hiring procedure. Supposedly, after the face to face interviews were done and the reference checks were completed, Bocuse led the applicant into the kitchen and asked him to prepare a fried egg.
It’s a great story, and may or may not be true—I’ve heard the same anecdote about the legendary Fernand Point. Since Bocuse apprenticed under Point, it’s likely that he fried an egg for him as well. Either way, it points to the intersection of simplicity and complexity. Frying an egg may seem elementary, but it’s one of the hardest things to do properly.
Today, of course, we live in a world of food media immersion, organic products, farm-to-table everything, and ubiquitous chef worship. It stands to reason that all this culinary sophistication is rubbing off on the average consumer, the acolyte who spends hours each day watching the Food Channel and taking notes.
Well, maybe not. Judging from the commercials for the Rollie Eggmaster, the average home cook still has a long way to go.
The Eggmaster ads aren’t very different from the Vegematic commercials that have appeared on late-night TV since the beginning of time: They advertise a gadget so revolutionary and miraculous that using it will save you time and streamline your life. The spot opens with someone struggling unsuccessfully to remove eggs from a frying pan (they appear to have been attached with Crazy Glue). It then introduces the Eggmaster, a gadget which is “the fast, easy, pan-free way to make perfect eggs every time.” The secret is “vertical cooking technology” that is cylindrical in shape, producing something akin to egg lollipops. And yes, if you act now, you get $10 off the price and receive something called the Rollie Chop, which looks suspiciously like a Vegematic.
The theory behind the Eggmaster is reminiscent of the popular 1950’s mindset—that the act of purchasing a home appliance will give you more free time and enhance your quality of life. And with all the leisure time you save, you’ll have more opportunities to immerse yourself in the bacon-infused recipes of Todd English, Emeril Lagasse and Paula Deen.
Mark Spivak is the author of Iconic Spirits: An Intoxicating History, published by Lyons Press (Globe Pequot); for more information, go to iconicspirits.net.