Chef Alex Stratta of Wynn Las Vegas Wins $10,000 for Meals On Wheels During Idaho Potato Commission's 'Chef Challenge' at American Wine and Food Festival

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EAGLE, Idaho, Oct. 6 -- The legendary chef and philanthropist, Wolfgang Puck, and four nationally acclaimed "chef friends" partnered with the Idaho Potato Commission (IPC) for the third annual IPC Chef Challenge at the American Wine & Food Festival (AWFF), held at Universal Studios in Los Angeles on Saturday, October 3. The celebrated chefs battled it out in a friendly competition to win the grand prize of a $10,000 charitable donation made in their name to the Los Angeles Chapters of Meals On Wheels.

Chef Alex (Alessandro) Stratta of Alex at Wynn Las Vegas was the evening's big winner as he dazzled the judges with Idaho® Potato and Leek Risotto with Porcini and Parmigiano -- a whimsical take on traditional risotto with perfectly cubed potatoes teamed with leeks, the gentle, nutty flavor of porcini mushrooms and a sprinkling of freshly grated Parmigiano. Competition was stiff indeed! "It was a tough decision for the judges," said Frank Muir, President/CEO of the IPC. "Yet, we all unanimously agreed that we could taste each of the individual ingredients in the dish -- on their own and as they blended together so perfectly. It was the simplicity and balance of flavors that tipped the scale. We also want to extend a tremendous thank you to all of the participating chefs and their commitment to the Puck-Lazaroff Charitable Foundation."

This year's impressive roster of IPC Chef Challenge participants included: Mark Gaier and Clark Frasier of Arrows Restaurant (Ogunquit, ME); Francois Payard of Payard New York (New York, NY) and Cal Stamenov of Marinus Restaurant at Bernardus Lodge (Carmel, CA). Dishes were judged on the best use of the product (Idaho potatoes!), originality of recipe, flavor and presentation.

The esteemed judging panel consisted of Frank Muir, IPC President/CEO; Don Odiorne, IPC Vice President of Foodservice; Chandra Ram, Editor of PLATE and Idaho Potato Commissioners Alan Taylor and Boyd Foster. The always-lovely Barbara Lazaroff also tasted along with the team and shared her very respected insight as well.

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