In Sabrina (1954), Audrey Hepburn plays a chauffeur's daughter in love above her station. Unnoticed and broken hearted, she goes to culinary school in Paris to forget. But even so far away, she can't keep her mind on her cooking. The class starts slowly with "the proper way to boil water," and moves on to how to crack an egg ("wrist like a whip," but Sabrina crushes it in her hand). Fast-forward a few months, and Sabrina's at the toughest part of her training—mastering the soufflé. The students are lined up military-style in front of a long wall of ovens, but the professor (Marcel Hillaire) is temporarily overcome with excitement: "The soufflé, it must be gay. Gay like two butterfiles dancing in the woods in the summer breeze…." He begins to flap his hands, but then collects himself with a countdown: "5 seconds...4…3...2…To the ovens!"
The class stands holding their creations, but the professor is like Goldilocks on porridge: "too low…too pale…too heavy…too low…too high—you are exaggerating…fair… so-so…sloppy." But just before he reaches Sabrina, he stops beside an elegant older man, a baron (Marcel Dalio, left). "Superbe!" Then he looks at Sabrina. Hers has not risen at all. "Much too low!" the professor pronounces. She forgot to turn on the oven.
Cheese Soufflé (adapted from James Beard)
3 Tbs. flour
3 Tbs. melted butter
3/4 cup milk
5 eggs, separated (5 whites, 4 yolks will be used)
1 cup grated cheese
Blend flour with melted butter, stir well and cook for 3 or 4 minutes over medium heat. Stir in 3/4 cup of milk, and stir until the sauce is thickened. Allow to cool slightly, then add 4 egg yolks and return it to heat for 2 or 3 minutes, stirring well. Add grated cheese and cool the mixture slightly. Finally, add 5 egg whites beaten stiff but not dry. Fold them in with a spatula, or electric beater with wisk attachment. Pour the soufflé into a 1-1/2 quart container and bake at 400 degrees for 25 to 40 minutes, depending on the firmness you desire.