Here's Why You Should Never Order Hollandaise At Breakfast

There's nothing that says brunch like a plate of eggs Benedict. The dish is a classic tasty tower with a lightly toasted piece of bread in the form of an English muffin or a brioche, covered by a protein (smoked salmon, bacon, or ham) or vegetable (spinach, anyone?). The dish is then delicately topped with a poached egg before it is blanketed with hollandaise sauce — that classic "mother sauce" emulsion made with egg yolk, butter, lemon juice, and salt. 

While the mental image of this is enough to entice you to return to your favorite brunch place as soon as possible, the late, great chef Anthony Bourdain has some words advice for those of us (and there are many) who are happy to order eggs Benedict, possibly with an extra helping or more of hollandaise. "Brunch menus are an open invitation to the cost-conscious chef, a dumping ground for the odd bits left over from Friday and Saturday nights," Bourdain wrote in The Guardian back in 2000. "How about hollandaise sauce? Not for me. Bacteria love hollandaise. And nobody I know has ever made hollandaise to order."

Cooks say they've seen hollandaise sauce left out

A cooking thread on Reddit was full of cooks and chefs come clean on the length of time a hollandaise sauce was stored before it was thrown out. One Redditor says: "At the temperature necessary to keep food 'safe' hollandaise will break. So it has to be completely used within two hours of being made. (Usually kept warm by sitting on the oven or just off centre of a heat lamp). The record I've personally seen was 11 hours of continuous use. It was made for brunch, turned into béarnaise for dinner, and kept just off centre of a heat lamp the whole time." 

Another Reddit user had an even more shocking confession to make: "Actually, I have seen 28 hours. Made before service then left out overnight at room temperature and warmed over a bath before the next service. Fun times..."

And while Bourdain says he doesn't know of any chef that will make fresh hollandaise for every order of eggs Benedict that comes through, Redditor "A Decadent Beast" says, "If you give a s***... You'll make it twice during service... You can taste a hollandaise that has sweated at 150 for a couple hours... No thanks... Small batch is the only way to go..."

Now if we could only find out where "A Decadent Beast" works, our next brunch spot would be all set. But for now, we're probably better off learning to make eggs Benedict at home, unless you fancy a game of gastrointestinal Russian Roulette, that is — unless you personally know the chef at the restaurant you're dining in, and what their method for preparing the sauce is.