There are different ways to set up an omelet bar, and if you've seen one at a hotel or resort, they probably did it differently than we describe here.
If you cook at home with the stove against the wall and your back to the kitchen, you may not have space to arrange an array of ingredients in front of you. Instead, place bowls of ingredients on a counter or table where guests can collect their fillings and then hand them to you to make their omelet.
And since you're in a home kitchen, there's probably only room for one person at the stove. If you want to hire a helper, you can task them with cracking and whisking eggs if you run out, as well as refilling other ingredients.
If you place your omelet bar in a different location where you cook on a hot plate on a table or if you have a stove on a kitchen island, you may be able to arrange things differently. However, for this article we will assume that you are cooking on the stove in a typical home kitchen.
Here's how to set it up
The ingredients: Your omelette bar will be set up on an assembly line basis, with ingredients in an area for your guests to choose from, as well as small bowls for them to collect their fillings. Try to keep bowls small so you don't end up with a lot of ingredients that won't fit into a single omelette. Meats like bacon and sausage should already be cooked and all ingredients should be chopped, diced, or cut into small pieces. This might mean doing a little prep work the night before.
The cooking station: As far as pans go, an 8-inch nonstick omelet pan is your best bet, and you'll probably want two of them so you can make two omelets at the same time.
A heat-resistant silicone spatula is a must. As for the beaten egg mixture itself, you'll need to make sure it's in a jug with a spout, or, if that's not possible, in a large bowl with a ladle.
Finally, using a plastic bottle for your cooking oil (such as canola oil or another mild-flavored refined vegetable oil) is quicker, easier, and cleaner than using butter, and oil doesn't burn as badly as butter does.
And don't forget the salt, pepper, and any garnishes you might add after cooking, like chopped fresh parsley or chives. Toppings such as sour cream, guacamole, salsa or sweet Thai chili sauce can be added by guests after the omelets are cooked. Arrange these either at the table where you are eating or in another suitable location, but try to direct the flow of traffic in one direction.
The grated cheese: Cheese is pretty much essential in an omelette, but it might work best if you keep the grated cheese close by rather than letting your guests add it along with the other ingredients. Since you don't typically fry the grated cheese but rather sprinkle it on the omelet and other fillings before folding, it probably makes most sense to have the cheese accessible only to you. Your guests can simply tell you what type of cheese they want.
Here's a summary of the equipment you'll need to set up your omelette bar.
- 2 nonstick 8-inch omelette pans
- Heat-resistant silicone spatula
- Squeeze bottle
- Pitcher with spout
- Multiple bowls to store the fillings and smaller bowls for each person to collect their fillings
- Smaller bowls or ramekins for kosher salt and black pepper
- Serving utensils for guests to use while gathering their ingredients
- Clean kitchen towel
Here are some recommended filling ingredients for your omelet bar.
- Onions (white, yellow, red), diced
- Spring onions, sliced
- Paprika, diced
- Mushrooms, sliced
- Tomatoes, diced
- Spinach, chopped
- Bacon, cooked and chopped
- Sausage, cooked and chopped
- Ham, diced
- Smoked salmon, diced
- Jalapeño peppers, sliced
- Grated cheese (Cheddar, Swiss, Gruyere, Monterey Jack)
Obviously the possibilities are too numerous to list here and are only limited by your imagination. But whatever you add, it should be chopped, sliced, or diced into small pieces. Meat and seafood should be fully cooked. If you want to make some or all of this preparation the night before, store the ingredients tightly closed in separate containers in the refrigerator overnight and remove them about 30 minutes before cooking.
How to cook an omelette
- Heat your skillet over medium heat.
- Add some oil to the pan. You don't need much. About a teaspoon or a pool about the size of a quarter is enough.
- Add the ingredients and sauté until soft.
- Add enough liquid egg to completely cover the bottom of the pan. Season with salt and pepper.
- Cook until the egg is set, then use your spatula to push the edges toward the center to allow liquid egg to flow underneath.
- Turn over, fry on the other side for about 30 seconds, add the cheese, then fold in and transfer to a plate.
- Wipe the pan with a kitchen towel and repeat the process for the next omelet.
Learn more about making an omelet here.