The humble egg spends most of its time playing a small supporting role in our lives—an ingredient in the mayo we swipe on a sandwich, the loyal sidekick to our chef salad. Sometimes it’s given the lead but in mundane projects like plain old scrambled eggs.

But ask the world’s most talented chefs—like the four we feature on these pages—and they’ll tell you that the egg is one of the true stars of the kitchen universe: so versatile and tasty that adding one atop pretty much any dish takes the meal from forgettable fare to memorable feast; and so healthy (it has a near-perfect protein/fat/calorie ratio and, we now know, doesn’t wreak havoc with cholesterol) that the Mayo Clinic advises eating up to seven eggs a week to prevent strokes.

So take these simple recipes (and our handy egg-buying, -prepping, and -cooking tips) and start whipping up your own egg-crowned masterpieces. Time to get cracking.