400 eggs cracked for giant omelette

Mary-Glenn Smith

On Sunday afternoon, Louisiana Festival of Festival-goers gathered around a huge skillet to watch representatives from Abbeville’s Giant Omelette Celebration as they cooked up an omelette using 400 eggs, much smaller than the giant 5,000 egg omelette cooked at Abbeville’s celebration but still a sight to see.

Dressed in chefs’ jackets and tall hats, select members, known as “chevaliers,” from the Giant Omelette Celebration cooked for a crowd curious to see what the giant omelette is all about.

“Legend has it that in the town of Bessieres, France, Napoleon, in his day went into that town and demanded that all the eggs be gathered up and cooked for his hungry army,” chevalier Arlene White of Abbeville said. “So in France they decided to start a festival of a giant omelette and they wanted to share this with other French speaking pockets around the world.”

Being that South Louisiana is French speaking, Abbeville, located in Vermilion Parish, was selected as one of the seven locations around the world to hold a giant omelette celebration under the charter of The World Confrerie of the Giant Omelette.

As the only Giant Omelette Celebration in the United States, Abbeville sends out invitations to members of other omelette celebrations to join in the cooking of their omelette. Likewise, the members from Abbeville receive invites from the other six omelette cities: Bessieres and Frejus, France; Dumbea, New Caledonia; Granby, Quebec; Malmedy, Belgium; and Pigue, Argentina.

“We invite members from the other places around world where the celebration happens; they come and help us cook and stay in our homes,” White said. “It’s a true cultural exchange, every year at different times of the year our membership is invited to go aboard and help them too, so it’s an opportunity for them to exchange cultures.”

Altogether, the group from Abbeville is made up of about 100 members with only about 40-50 having been knighted as chevaliers.

“We are not chefs, we are only chefs for the weekend, none of us are in the culinary arts,” White said. “After you have proven yourself in the organization you earn your hat and your skillet that you wear, and not until you get that can you stir in the pot.”

Before members becomes chevaliers, they do other chores like cracking eggs, doing the bread, and serving the omelette.

For the past 26 years Abbeville’s Giant Omelette Celebration has been held during the first full weekend in November and includes entertainment, arts and crafts, antique shows and more.

In the celebration’s first year in 1984, the giant omelette was made using 5,000 eggs and each year since they have added one egg to the omelette.

At the celebration this year, chevaliers used 5,026 eggs, 50 pounds of onions, 75 bell peppers, four gallons of onion tops, two gallons of parsley, one and a half gallons of cooking oil, 6 and a half gallons of milk, 53 pounds of butter, three boxes of salt, two boxes of black pepper, crawfish tails and Tabasco Pepper Sauce to cook the giant omelette in a 12-foot stainless steel skillet.

 “We used about 400 eggs here and cooked in a much smaller skillet,” White said.

 The skillet used at the Giant Omelette Celebration in Abbeville is nine times larger than one used Sunday.

 “We fabricated the small skillet this year,” White said about the skillet used for cooking Sunday. “We have some junior members and we wanted to get them more involved this year, so they cook a small omelette while we cook our large one.”

 The omelette took about 30 minutes to cook and was served to a hungry crowd of on-lookers with a piece of French bread when it was complete.

Abbeville’s Giant Omelette Celebration was just one of the many festivals represented at the first Louisiana Festival of Festivals this past weekend.