Terpening carrying on family tradition for Giant Omelette in Abbeville
Kathie Terpening has worked hard with the annual Giant Omelette Celebration for many years to reach the highest ranks of the event.
Terpening saw the fruits of that labor Friday night when she was knighted into her new position as Cinquième Grand Maitre during a ceremony for the 29th Annual Giant Omelette Celebration. The five Grands Maîtres lead Abbeville’s Confrérie.
“It’s such an honor,” Terpening said Thursday morning of being elected to the post.
Terpening joins the other Grands Maîtres: Première Grand Maître Whit Atchette, Deuxième Grand Maître Elray Schexnaider, Troisième Grand Maître Arlene White and Quatrième Grand Maître Gordy Landry. Last year, after the death of Premiere Grand Maître Cecil Hebert, the four Grands Maîtres moved up, creating the need for election that brought Terpening to the rank.
“I was very excited because my dad helped start this 29 years ago,” she said.
Terpening’s father, Bichon Toups, co-founded the event in 1984.
While becoming a Grand Maître is a honor all by itself, the back story for Terpening makes this all the more memorable.
“I am just carrying on the tradition he began 29 years ago,” Terpening said. “It just keeps getting better.”
Terpening has been involved with the Giant Omelette Celebration for 20 years. The organization knighted Terpening in ‘96 as a Chevalier, the members who wear the large white chef hats and white chef coats and cook the eggs.
The Giant Omelette will be prepared this year with 5,029 eggs. It began with 5,000 and one egg has been added for each year of the festival. The eggs are cooked over an open wood fire in a 12-foot diameter stainless steel skillet.
“It is something to see,” Terpening said. “If you have never seen it, you do not know what you are missing.”
The same can be said for the entire celebration. Abbeville is one of the few places in the world where one can have the experience taking place this weekend.
“It’s the only one in the United States,” Terpening said of Abbeville’s . “We are one of seven in the world.
“Only in Louisiana could you find something like this (in the U.S.).”
That is because the Giant Omelette cannot take place just anywhere.
“The only way the mother organization allows different groups to come is if they are from a French speaking region,” Terpening explained. “Acadiana is a French-speaking area so that is why it was allowed here.”
Along with highlighting culture here, being part of the Giant Omelette has allowed Terpening, as well as her husband Jerry Terpening, to travel and experience other cultures.
“We have been to Canada twice and France three times,” Terpening said. “Our next stop is Belgium. That is where we want to go next. It’s very exciting going to another one because it is so different from ours. Everyone adds different ingredients. We add crawfish.
“The best part is that every one of them is different.”
Along the experience of other cultures, new friendships have also been forged.
“Last year we had some guests from Canada who stayed with us for 16 days,” Terpening said. “We enjoyed them thoroughly. We stayed with them this past summer when we went to the Giant Omelette in Canada.
“That’s what happens. You make such good friends that when you go, you stay with them and they stay with you when they come here.”
Opening ones home is part of the work that goes into moving up in the Confrérie, such as Terpening has done in 20 years.
“You get to be a Chevalier by working hard,” Terpening said. “You have to serve on committees, attending different Omelettes, hosting people in your home and having parties in your home. That is just some of the criteria used.”
Of course it was never a matter of whether Terpening would put in the effort needed.
“I put in as much work as I could because I wanted to get to this point,” Terpening said.
Terpening is now watching a granddaugher do the same. Emma Falgout, 15, is a Jr. Chevalier for the Giant Omelette Celebration in Abbeville.
“It gives me a great sense of pride seeing her do this,” Terpening said.
As for her own honor, Terpening said as of Thursday she had not stopped long enough to think much about the moment.
“We are hosting one of the parties and I am helping out with the art show and I am in charge of the T-shirts,” Terpening said. “It’s been quite busy. I haven’t had a chance to let it sink in. Once it does it will be emotional.
“It’s a very special honor and I am very proud.”