For Marysol Foucault, the egg is the ultimate comfort food.
That’s one reason why eggs feature prominently on the menu of Edgar, her acclaimed pocket-sized restaurant in Gatineau, Québec. Edgar focuses on breakfast, brunch, pastries and take-out. There’s one egg dish every weekday, and poached eggs are a star of the weekend brunch.
Foucault says eggs have the aura of simplicity about them that makes them accessible to everyone. Placing an egg on top of a fancy dish suddenly makes it look homier and less complicated, she says. And because an egg has protein, adding an egg to a salad suddenly turns it into a complete meal.
“If eggs have a starring role, it’s because they are comforting,” she explains.
Foucault is part of a national network of chefs collaborating with Egg Farmers of Canada to explore new culinary trends and ways of enjoying eggs.
Eggs are a local, Canadian product–and she wants to remind people of the benefits of that simple fact.
“I love eggs and I love cooking breakfast, so it’s a natural partnership,” she says.
She started by working evenings and weekends in local restaurants through high school and college, but she always assumed her career would be elsewhere. At one point she actively considered becoming an undertaker.
One restaurant job led to another. A pastry chef retired and she stepped in, and before she knew it she was developing as a chef. “I was allowed to be creative at a very young age,” she recalls. “The boss had absolute confidence in me, and that allowed me to grow.”
Working in a restaurant in a rural setting allowed her to discover the joys of fresh, local ingredients and an ever-changing menu based on what was in season.
But a move to another place in the city knocked the wind out of her sails. Her colleagues there were competitive and she felt she had to prove herself each day. So she gave up cooking and turned to painting.
Being an artist, she discovered, made her sad and introspective. One day her boyfriend asked: “What makes you happy?”
She quickly realized that she was happy when she was cooking, so she went back to her original career. A few years later, she came across a hole-in-the-wall restaurant for rent.
“My boyfriend convinced me to take it on,” she says. “He said ‘This could be yours.’ It’s small—there are 13 seats—and the rent is reasonable, so it’s not that big a risk.”
She’s never looked back. Chez Edgar is a busy place, with a steady turnover during the day.
Perhaps because she loves cooking, it distresses her to meet a lot of people who don’t cook themselves. So Foucault is determined to help people overcome the impression that cooking is complicated or difficult.
“I’d like to demystify cooking,” she says. “We mustn’t make cooking seem more difficult than it is. It’s often just a question of habit or technique.”
If you’re learning to cook, eggs are a good place to start, she says.
Take poached eggs. Foucault says people fuss too much about things like how hard the water should be boiling or whether they should use a gadget of some sort. She says her secret is to add a splash of vinegar to the water, and to watch the eggs closely as they cook.
She’s become so good at it that poaching eggs has become second nature.
Though poached eggs are a menu staple, they are not her favourite way to eat eggs. If you want to please her, serve her a plain egg sandwich with mayonnaise, “like the kind my aunt might make for me.”
A plain egg sandwich brings back memories, she says, and takes her to her happy place.