John Kernick
Active Time
N/A
Total Time
30 MIN
Yield
Serves : 4

I’ve been lucky enough to spend the past 20 years working in food media, following the brightest restaurant talents, traveling in search of great food, and eating alongside some of the world’s best chefs. In my role as special projects director at mkgallery and as a judge on Bravo’s Top Chef, I’ve eaten my way through more tasting menus, late-night small plates, and street-food stalls than I’d like to admit. But, of course, that's the side of my life everyone who knows anything about me already knows. What most people probably don’t realize is, long before I sat at the Top Chef Judges’ Table, I was a cook. In fact, cooking is in my blood. When I was growing up in Toronto, my mom was a cooking instructor and food writer. She made our kitchen a teaching space and filled our fridge with exotic-seeming ingredients. The happy times I spent with her there helped make the kitchen a place where I’ve always found comfort and exhilaration. In my teens, I spent a summer on a kibbutz in Israel working in my first professional kitchen. I was assigned to breakfast duty and fell in love with scrambling, poaching, and frying eggs by the dozens. Today, one of my go-to brunches is baked eggs in a cherry tomato–pepper mix seasoned with the Mediterranean spice blend za’atar. It never fails to conjure happy memories of that magical time—and you’ll find the recipe below. My love of the kitchen drew me to New York City after college, first as a culinary student, then as a line cook. It's also what motivated me, once I left restaurant life, to seek out jobs that kept me connected to cooking. I did research and recipe testing for a food writer, managed events and PR for a chef, and then landed at mkgallery, while also taking a seat at the Judges’ Table when Top Chef began in 2006. I'd like to think of my role as that of chef translator, helping to make dishes, techniques, and flavors accessible to home cooks. Among the most meaningful moments in my career so far have been opportunities to learn from chefs and food experts I've befriended. Lessons these mentors have shared can be found throughout my new cookbook—my first—, a collection of dishes I love making for family and friends. My hope is the book will encourage people to embark on their own cooking and eating adventures. You can also find recipes I’ve created especially for mkgallery here at mkgallery Cooks, and in each issue of the magazine, in my column, “At My Table.” Slideshow: More Baked Egg Recipes

How to Make It

Step 1    

Preheat the oven to 375°. In a large ovenproof skillet, heat the 3 tablespoons of olive oil until shimmering. Add the onion, season with salt and pepper and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, until some of them burst, 
5 to 7 minutes. Add the bell peppers 
and cook, stirring occasionally, until the peppers are softened and all of the tomatoes have burst, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in ¼ cup 
of the parsley and 1 1/2 teaspoons of the za’atar. Season the tomato sauce with salt and pepper.

Step 2    

Using a spoon, make 4 wells in the tomato sauce, then crack an egg into each one; season with salt and pepper. Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until the egg whites are just set and the yolks are still runny.

Step 3    

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix the yogurt with the cucumber, the 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, the sumac, mint 
and the remaining 2 teaspoons of parsley and 1/2 teaspoon of za’atar. Season with salt and garnish with za’atar. Drizzle the eggs with olive oil and garnish with parsley. Drizzle the tomato sauce with lemon juice. Serve with the cucumber yogurt.

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