The French Chef Omelette Pan is an iconic Omelette pan. It was supposedly developed in conjuncture with famed television Chef Julia Child. In the 1940’s there was a foundry that used to manufacturer torpedo. The front end of the torpedo was usually cut off to allow for stuffing of materials. Conveniently, they were the right size for a skillet, 8 and 11 inch. The interior was curved making it perfect for tossing and forming omelette. These were so popular that restaurant and companies started buying it. However, the Foundry eventually stopped producing the torpedoes. When Julia Child visited the Pot Shop of Boston, she suggested that they make a similar version. After a few months, the Omelette pan was developed.
Drama with Julia Child?
Not much is known about the development process of this pan. But based on findings from forums discussion, there was apparently some drama about the sales and marketing of the pan. While it is said that she couldn’t promote it because she was an educator. Julia Child apparently did not like the price that was being asked for the pan. As a result, she requested that her name not be used with the sales and distribution of the pan.
In The French Chef “Omelette Show”, she refers to it as a “Status Pan”. She claimed that the status pan sides were not tall enough and that it was too expensive. The nonstick finish was apparently more favorable in her eyes. In the second half of the show, when she was making the buffet style. She refer to the pan as “Early Status Pan” claiming that those were only half the price of the new status pan. Interesting enough, the design were slightly different. With a plastic handles and rivets on the side.
While I cannot confirm the story, the websites of the Pot Shop makes little reference to Julia Child. There is one section about the history of it, but not in the actual product description of the pan. They actually promoted a different chef by the name of John Bennett. He demonstrated how to make a omelette with the pan.
The French Chef Omelette Pan Design
This section will discuss the various aspect of The French Chef Omelette Pan design. We will go through handle, shape and overall performance.
In the early iteration of The French Chef Omelette Pan, the handles were made of wood and painted black. Today, the one you get is offered in a tannish brown color. Usually I prefer handles to have a natural wooden finish. Those type of handle are porous, meaning that it will help you maintain grip even if your hand is greasy. It also will stay cool during use. However, due to the wood design, you should not put the skillet in a oven with temperature above 300 degree Fahrenheit. I also recommend that you always wash it by hand. Overtime, water can rot and destroy the handle.
The handle looks like it was spun on a lathe. Quite different from a modern pan where the handle tapers inwards with a slight angle. The handle on the French Chef is almost perpendicular to the pan, making it feel heavier than it really is. While the handle itself looks to be more decorative than functional, it is still comfortable due to its round design.
The shape of the The French Chef Omelette Pan is designed for omelette making. It has low flaring sides with no sharp corners. These type of design allows you roll and flip eggs with your wrist. Not only that, the lack of corners means that you can whisk and scrape the sides with ease. Sharp corners often traps food and get in they way of a spatula.
The French Chef Omelette Pan Finish and Variations
There is quite a few different variation of this pan, rough, smooth and nonstick. For the rough and smooth variety, you need to season the pan to make it nonstick. Much like cast iron, if you manage to season the pan properly, it will become more nonstick overtime. To season the pan, start by coating it with oil and sticking it in the oven at 400 degree for 30 minute. You can repeat the process until it turns black.
The one that I have is the rough variety. I recommend that you get this version because it holds on to the seasoning better. The nonstick version will perform better initially. But overtime, the coating will tear and become useless. You will basically have to strip it or toss it. Quite an expensive pan to throw away.
If you must get the nonstick version, here are some way to extend the life of it.
1) Never use a metal utensil. Little tears and rips will only accelerate the degradation of the coating. I would also avoid dishwasher and the use of a nylon scrubber.
2) Don’t overheat the pan. At temperature of 500 degree and above, the coating will start to degrade rapidly. At temperature of 572 degree, fumes can be released. You might experience flu like symptoms known as the Teflon Flu.
Thickness and Aluminum
This thickness on the The French Chef Omelette Pan is like no other. It is made of aluminum and has a rim thickness is a little over 1/4 inch thick. I can think of no other manufacturer that makes pan this thick. This should translate to superior heat distribution across the pan. It should also hold heat better than your standard nonstick pan. This pan should be able to sear a steak without any issue.
The French Chef Omelette Pan X Julia Child Thoughts
Overall, the The French Chef Omelette Pan by Julia Child is actually very well designed. I am most impressed by the gentle sloping side and the overall thickness. These pans are casted instead of stamped. This lets them decide on how thick the cookware should be. Where as stamped cookware has a limit on the maximum thickness. The hydraulic press will either wear out too quickly or break. For this reason, casted cookware are a little bit more expensive. Since most manufacturer these day are more focused on profit than quality, stuff like this are not common anymore.
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