72-year-old Howard Helmer can produce a delicious gourmet omelette faster than anyone else in the world. Over the years, he’s managed to hang on to two Guinness World Records – one for the fastest omelette (in 39 seconds) and the other for turning out a whopping 427 omelettes in 30 minutes.
In every demonstrative video he makes, Helmer shares his secret – he mixes two eggs with two tablespoons of water, and fries them in a 10-inch omelette pan. His routine goes something like this: “Butter in the pan – two eggs and two tablespoons of water – bring the cooked egg to the center of the pan and tilt the pan so that the raw egg finds some base to cook on until there’s no more runny egg but the egg is still very moist on top. In goes some cheese, some spinach, fold the omelette in half, and then the whole thing goes upside down on your plate.”
Helmer’s association with eggs actually began 42 years ago, when he took up a job at the American Egg Board, writing copy about the wonders of chicken eggs. Since then, he has promoted eggs at country fairs, restaurant conventions, culinary schools, and on national television. Over the years, he’s also worked with famous chefs and taught movie stars to make omelettes.
Photo: Incredible Egg
“I have 32 magazine food editors that I stay in touch with regularly in order to try to influence them to feature recipes using eggs on their food page,” he said. Helmer has also traveled across the world, promoting eggs in Australia, England, Malaysia, and even Brazil – the nation with the world’s lowest per capita egg consumption.
“There’s a stigma attached to eggs in Brazil,” he explained. So the Brazilian Egg Production Board invited him to make omelettes at the Sao Paolo Grand Prix in the mid 1990s. Helmer explained that “the international beautiful people would be photographed eating omelettes, and the mainstream audience would see that singing sensation or this movie star eating eggs” and want to eat them themselves.
Helmer has also helped out in Japan, where he taught homemakers how to make quick and easy omelettes with fillings of their choice. “We used thawed frozen mixed veggies, the lima bean and carrot mix, and cheddar cheese. Then they’d all drown the omelets in ketchup. Everyone did that, without exception. And that’s OK with me,” he laughed.
According to Helmer, one of his biggest challenges came with what he calls the ‘cholesterol debacle’. “I try not to let the negatives to creep in,” he said. “My brain is focused on the wondrous qualities of eggs. If there’s an egg beside my frying pan, I’m happy.”
Helmer often remarks that if he hadn’t started work at the egg board, he might have become a Broadway star. But now that he’s worked with eggs for so many years, he has no regrets. “I think one of the things that has made me successful at the Egg Board is that I love the attention,” he admitted. And all his audiences seem to love him and his entertaining personality.
Sadly, Helmer is retiring as America’s favourite eggman, and Jeffrey Saad – runner up of The Next Food Network Star season 5 – is all set to replace him as a spokesman for the egg board. “Jeffery is the perfect successor,” said Helmer, who is taking the retirement in his stride. “I’m not going after that record again because it was exhausting. Next person comes along, wants my record, they’re welcome to it.” He now plans to take up landscape painting and smoking cigars, “like Winston Churchill.”