There are several ways to set up an omelette bar, and if you've seen one at a hotel or resort, they probably did it differently than the way we'll describe here.
If you're cooking at home with the stove against the wall and your back to the kitchen, you might not have room to arrange an array of ingredients in front of you. Instead, set up bowls of ingredients on a counter or table where guests can collect their fillings and then hand them to you to make their omelette.
And since you're in a home kitchen, there's likely only room for one person at the stove. If you want to enlist a helper, you can have them cracking and whisking eggs in case you run low, as well as replenishing any other ingredients.
If you're setting up your omelette bar at a different location, where you're cooking on a hot plate on a table, or if you have a range on a kitchen island, you might be able to arrange things differently. But for this article, we're assuming you're cooking at the stove in a typical home kitchen.
How to Set It Up
The Ingredients: Your omelette bar will be set up in assembly-line fashion, with ingredients in one area for your guests to select, along with small bowls for them to collect their fillings. Try to keep the bowls small so that they don't hand you a number of ingredients that won't fit in a single omelette. Meats such as bacon and sausage should be already cooked, and all ingredients should be chopped, diced, or sliced into small pieces. This might mean doing a bit of prep the night before.
The Cooking Station: As for pans, your best bet is a nonstick 8-inch omelette pan, and you'll probably want two of these so that you can make two omelettes at a time.
A heatproof silicone spatula is a must. As for the beaten egg mixture itself, you'll need to make sure it's in a pitcher with a spout, or if this isn't possible, in a large bowl with a ladle.
Finally, a plastic squeeze bottle for your cooking oil (such as canola or some other mild-flavored, refined vegetable oil) will make things quicker, easier, and neater than using butter, and oil won't burn the way butter can.
And don't forget the salt, pepper, and any garnishes you might add after cooking, like chopped fresh parsley or chives. Toppings like sour cream, guacamole, salsa, or sweet Thai chili sauce can be added by the guests themselves after the omelettes are cooked. Either arrange these at the table where you'll be eating or at some other convenient spot, but try to keep the flow of traffic going in one direction.
The Shredded Cheese: Cheese is pretty much essential in an omelette, but it might work best if you keep the shredded cheese near you, rather than have your guests add it in along with their other ingredients. Since you wouldn't typically sauté the shredded cheese, but rather, sprinkle it atop the omelette and other fillings before folding it, it probably makes the most sense to have the cheese only accessible to you. Your guests can simply tell you what kind 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
- Heatproof silicone spatula
- Squeeze bottle
- Pitcher with spout
- Multiple bowls to hold the fillings and smaller ones for each person to use to collect their fillings
- Smaller bowls or ramekins for Kosher salt and black pepper
- Serving utensils for guests to use when collecting their ingredients
- Clean kitchen towel
Here are some suggested filling ingredients for your omelette bar.
- Onions (white, yellow, red), diced
- Scallions, sliced
- Bell peppers, diced
- Mushrooms, sliced
- Tomatoes, diced
- Spinach, chopped
- Bacon, cooked and chopped
- Sausage, cooked and chopped
- Ham, diced
- Smoked salmon, diced
- Jalapeño peppers, sliced
- Shredded cheese (cheddar, Swiss, Gruyere, Monterey Jack)
Obviously, the possibilities are too numerous to list here and are limited only by your imagination. But whatever you include, it should be chopped, sliced, or diced into small pieces. Meat and seafood should be fully cooked. If you choose to do some or all of this prep the night before, store your ingredients tightly sealed in separate containers in the refrigerator overnight, and take them out about 30 minutes before you start cooking.
How to Cook an Omelette
- Heat your pan over medium heat.
- Squeeze some oil onto 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 entirely cover the bottom of the pan. Season with salt and pepper.
- Cook until the egg is set, then use your spatula to slide the edges toward the center to allow any liquid egg to flow underneath.
- Flip, cook the other side for about 30 seconds, add the cheese, then fold, and transfer to a plate.
- Wipe out your pan with a kitchen towel and repeat for the next omelette.
Here's more detail on how to make an omelette.