Merry Mashed Potato!

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EAGLE, ID, October 1, 2009 -- Traditionally, the holidays offer the opportunity for increased sales and extra revenue with the onset of office parties and festive gatherings for family and friends. While consumers continue to watch their wallets, they have not lost the desire to celebrate the season and indulge themselves a bit. During the holidays, foodservice operators can still please palates and stimulate sales by considering cost-saving options that are both appealing and affordable.

Mashed Idaho® potatoes are the ideal option for holiday menu planning because of their low-cost and infinite versatility. Fresh and processed mashed potatoes can easily be dressed up to complement any dining occasion. As an added bonus, guests will treat themselves to a healthy dish - great taste without the guilt! If prepared with calorie counting in mind, a 3/4 cup serving of mashed Idaho potatoes is less than 200 calories. Consider mixing mashed potatoes with roasted garlic or fresh herbs such as basil, cilantro or thyme and guests may not be so tempted to pile on the fat-laden toppings.

"Mashed Idaho potatoes can be simple or fancy, inexpensive or upscale," said Don Odiorne, VP of Foodservice for IPC. "Simply prepared, standard serving (3/4 cup) of mashed potatoes costs about 32 cents. Depending on your operation, you can create something as effortless as oven-roasted tomatoes with fresh herbs or an elegant porcini mushroom sauce. The variations and flavor profiles are endless. Determine what best reflects your restaurant or non-commercial setting and let your creativity and talents take over."

Mashed Potato Bar Basics

Office Party Insight

  • Since most office parties take place after work, guests usually arrive hungry and need something substantial to eat. A mashed potato bar offers the opportunity for guests to mingle and whet their appetites before the first holiday toast.

  • Offer mashed potato toppings that are complementary in taste. Depending on your establishment, you may consider a region or specific cuisine and focus on those flavors that are indigenous to the area. Think Mediterranean mezze and show off your talents for tapenade and tzatziki. Guests can mix and match flavors and may even be inspired to try something new.

Make it Easy

  • Time and labor are both precious commodities. Most mashed potato toppings can be prepared ahead of time. In fact, steal ideas from your standard menu; depending on the size of the crowd, prep more than necessary for the mashed potato bar. Keep garnishes fresh and serving dishes clean - half of the appeal of eating is visual.

  • When prepping fresh potatoes, leave the skin on for an extra dose of nutrients as well as added texture and flavor.

  • Consider using processed mashed potatoes - they are easy to prepare, not labor-intensive and deliver great taste.

  • Something as simple as color, can greatly enhance the intrigue of any dish -- potatoes are no exception. In addition to the revered Russet, the Idaho Potato Commission in now promoting Golds, Reds and Fingerlings grown in the Gem State. Visit to learn more.

Dishing It Up

  • Martini or wine glasses make fun serving dishes. Guests simply spoon a dollop of mashed potatoes into a festive glass and literally decorate to their heart's content.

  • Consider providing a healthy portion of already-plated potatoes and have guests do the rest.

  • Showcase spices and herbs in small decorative bowls or ramekins for guests to sprinkle for the last dash of flavor.

Reliable Resources

Ask Dr. Potato
If you have a particular potato problem or unusual question, feel free to contact Dr. Potato at Dr. Potato is a spudtacular reference for all things potato.

Visit for a wide breadth of information, tips and resources. Additionally check out for a variety of mashed potato dishes.

Learn more about preparing mashed potatoes by watching Making Mashed Potatoes -- Part I and Creating Signature Mashed Potatoes -- Part II videos. To view, click here.

About Idaho Potatoes

Although Idaho is famous worldwide for its premium potatoes, some operators don't realize that only potatoes grown in the Gem State can wear the "Grown in Idaho" Seal. Both words Idaho® Potatoes and the "Grown in Idaho®" seal are federally registered Certification Marks that certify to consumers that they are purchasing genuine Idaho Potatoes that have been grown in the state of Idaho.