Another Day in Poe's Kitchen at The Rattlesnake

Chef Brian Poe shows you the world in the back of the house.

Brunch—the right meal at the right time

I was in and out of hotels for 15 years. Of all the things I’m grateful for now that I’m running an independent kitchen, the number one thing might be the fact that I don’t have to get up at 5 in the morning to cook eggs for the breakfast shift.

Don’t get me wrong—I like eggs. Quail eggs, goose eggs, fish eggs, chicken eggs—I like them all, cooked or raw. I understand their importance in baking. I respect their importance in binding. I grasp their importance in soufflés. I even wish them well in hatching so long as it’s not in my kitchen. I know how to make zabaglione (whip it—whip it good)! A few good egg whites are the secret to a good margarita or pisco sour; a few good yolks, combined at the right time, ensure a perfect Caesar salad. Introduce some clarified butter to your yolks and you have a brilliant béarnaise or hollandaise. The only thing I dislike about eggs is the hour at which they are usually prepared. Both my aioli and my mayo agree with me that we all get along better after 10 AM.

Eggs were introduced to me early in my career. When I was 21, clocking in at the Auburn University Hotel & Conference Center, I was told that if I wanted to move out of the pantry plating salads and desserts and onto the hot line, I would first have to work a few months on the breakfast hot line cooking eggs. “Absolutely, chef—anything it takes to learn to cook,” I said—only to backtrack with an incredulous “you want me to be here at what time?” at the stern sound of the dread phrase  “5:30 AM.” My stomach churned at the thought of being awake at that hour (still does).

My first assignment was to take home an omelette pan and learn to flip a slice of bread. I was told to focus on the quick push and pull of the pan until the bread became airborne. The next trick was to catch the bread. For weeks I wandered around the house flipping bread slices, all to win the envied position of a line cook. Now it’s the first thing I teach the aspiring chefs that work with me.

My first shift at that godforsaken hour was not what I expected. The breakfast chef showed up late in a sweat, his hands shaking. He indicated that he may have had a few drinks over the course of a sleepless night. The other cooks moved differently than the ones on the evening crew—still wearing the crinkles of the pillowcase, half-awake. The coffee machine slammed. The toaster needed heating. The servers had to go through the ritual of cursing the night crew for not bringing up the white bread or stocking the butters—and our crew to get EVERYTHING READY NOW, because customers would be streaming in at any moment. It was up to us to start their days off right.

It was a scene that will never to be repeated at Poe’s Kitchen. But brunch service—that’s a different story.

Sandwiched between the Saturday bar crawl and the Monday back-to-work grind, Sunday brunch may just be the most leisurely, civilized meal of the week. And as of July 5, we’ll be offering it here. Get up as late as you like, come on up to the roof deck, kick back with an Argentine bellini or a watermelon margarita and take a mini-vacation. 

You bet I’ll be flipping omelettes. 

In the next day or two you can check out the brunch menu on our website—keep your eyes peeled for everything from grilled doughnuts with caramel-and-champagne foam to eggs benedict with grilled ham and jalapeño hollandaise over my signature grilled green chile cornbread:

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