America's Most Celebrated Chefs Compete on the Beach in The Idaho® Potato Side Dish Challenge

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EAGLE, ID, February 25, 2010 -- Thirteen of the nation’s most acclaimed chefs battled it out for a “good cause” at the fourth annual South Beach Wine and Food Festival’s Burger Bash hosted by the Food Network’s Rachael Ray.  In addition to their skills at the grill, their potato prowess was tested during the Idaho Potato Commission’s (IPC) Side Dish Challenge.  The IPC, a Silver Sponsor of the Festival, enlisted 13 of the Burger Bash participants to go the extra step and prepare a prize-winning Idaho® potato side dish.   The Grand Prize was a $5,000 donation to Florida International University made by the IPC on behalf of Chef Mark Zeitouni.

This renowned group of culinary experts quickly slipped into friendly competition mode as they prepped, peeled and presented their Idaho® potato sides to a panel of judges.  The judging team included Frank Muir, IPC President & CEO; Don Odiorne, IPC Vice President, Foodservice and none other than nationally syndicated TV personality Art Ginsburg, aka “Mr. Food.”  “This evening’s side dishes once again reminded us of not only the passion and talent demonstrated by these chefs but the breadth of ideas for serving Idaho® potatoes,” said Frank Muir.  “Tonight was no exception.  All the participating chefs deserve a round of applause.  After we visited all 13 booths, where we conducted our sampling and scoring, we awarded the Grand Prize to Chef Zeitouni for his Homemade Tots.”

“I am always on the lookout for great tasting recipes that use readily available and low-cost ingredients, like Idaho® potatoes.  Once again, these top-notch chefs over-delivered in this year’s Side Dish Challenge and elevated the Idaho® potato, to ‘celebrity food’ status,” said Mr. Food.  “It’s important to stay inspired in the kitchen and be reminded that there are endless cooking options with great-tasting, healthy ingredients.  The dishes I tasted tonight are a testament to America’s culinary creativity.”

“The Homemade Tots are really a simple dish – easy to prepare, healthy and delicious. It’s basically an Idaho® potato cake mixed with shallots and green onions,” said Zeitouni. “Idaho® potatoes work especially well for the  Tots because of their high solids content – more potato, less water – they are crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside.”

Chef Zeitouni received special kudos from Mr. Food, who after he tasted the Tots, exclaimed “OOH IT’S SO GOOD!!”

In addition to the Side Dish Challenge, IPC hosted a tropical themed booth, serving freshly cut Idaho® Potato Parmesan Fries with savory dipping sauces under the supervision of Chef Todd Downs, President of Food Sense in Fort Wayne, IN.  Students from Florida International University assisted Chef Downs who served hundreds of hungry Burger Bash guests.

The side dishes were judged on a five-point scale for each of the following criteria:  Use of Product, Originality, Presentation and Flavor.  The side dish with the highest total score captured the Grand Prize.  Other participating chefs included:

  • Govind Armstrong - 8 Oz. Burger Bar

  • Jonathan Bennett - Moxie, The Restaurant and Red, The Steakhouse

  • Sean Brasel - Meat Market

  • David Burke - David Burke’s Primehouse

  • Thomas Connell - Bistro One LR at The Ritz-Carlton

  • Gabriel Fenton - Bourbon Steak

  • Stephanie Izard - The Drunken Goat

  • Jake Linzinmeir - X Café

  • Michael Lomonaco - Porter House New York

  • Tim Love - Love Shack

  • Olivier Muller - DB Bistro Moderne

  • Laurent Tourondel - BLT Burger

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About South Beach Wine & Food Festival

The Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival is a national, star-studded, four-day destination event showcasing the talents of the world's most renowned wine and spirits producers, chefs and culinary personalities.

About the Idaho Potato Commission The Idaho Potato Commission is a state agency that is primarily responsible for expanding the markets for Idaho®-grown potatoes through advertising, promotion and research. The Commission also protects the use of the "Idaho®" potato and "Grown in Idaho®" seals, which are federally registered Certification Marks that belong to the IPC. These Marks ensure that consumers are purchasing potatoes that have been grown in the state of Idaho.  For more information visit