Chef Evan Hanczor may not be an overly serious guy, but he doesn't joke around about the first meal of the day.
"It's a clean slate when you're making food for someone in the morning," he says. "At breakfast, you're hoping to have a good start to the day—and if you can achieve that, everything in your day will be better for it. There's some responsibility to that."
Hanczor should know: He and business partner George Weld protect the sanctity of breakfast at their charming Williamsburg, Brooklyn, restaurant, Egg, using high-quality ingredients to craft unfussy dishes, such as Grafton cheddar omelets with broiled tomatoes and hash browns, and braised duck leg hash with two eggs. That same thoughtful, not-too-precious mantra is the throughline of the duo's new cookbook, Breakfast: Recipes to Wake Up For ($35).
"It's really about getting the best ingredients and keeping it simple," Hanczor says.
One dish that epitomizes that philosophy is his classic French toast (see the recipe). It isn't rocket science and doesn't require froufrou ingredients or techniques—just thick slices of brioche that soak up a silky custard made of eggs, whole milk, heavy cream, vanilla, a splash of maple syrup and a pinch each of salt and nutmeg.
The bread is cooked in a cast-iron pan with some butter and flipped a few times until it's beautifully golden brown, and "the custard in the middle of the bread is set and not too runny," Hanczor says. The last tiny bit of effort on your part involves sliding it onto a plate with a pat of butter and some maple syrup—nothing more—before you cut into one of those sweet, rich, crisp-on-the-outside-but-soft-on-the-inside slices.
"Eating French toast is sort of like getting back into bed," Hanczor laughs. "When you take a bite of French toast, you feel like things are going to be okay for the next few minutes and, hopefully, for the rest of the day."
His luxurious version just might be the equivalent of a fluffy down comforter that we wouldn't mind getting wrapped up in for a little while.