Eagle, ID, October 2, 2008 - Wolfgang Puck and four of his world-renowned chef friends partnered with the Idaho Potato Commission (IPC) for the second annual recipe contest at the 26th American Wine & Food Festival (AWFF) held on the back lot of Universal Studios in Los Angeles this past Saturday, September 27th. Star chefs battled it out in a fierce competition of culinary skills as they each vied for the grand prize $10,000 charitable donation in their name.
Legendary Chef Paul Prudhomme of K-Paul's Louisiana was the evening's big winner. Prudhomme and his Executive Chef Paul Miller held nothing back as they prepared a Pirogue de Patate d'Idaho Plein Sauce Blanc avec Fromage, also known as a Full Boat Idaho Potato Pirogue with White Cheese Sauce. Judges swooned over the Cajun-style dish made with Idaho Potatoes, leeks, cheese, heavy cream, sun-dried tomatoes and some of Chef's own Magic®. Prudhomme was the very first chef to commit to the contest - doing so a full year in advance, immediately following Nobu Matsuhisa's crowning at the inaugural competition last September.
"Wolfgang always puts on an amazing show and I've enjoyed participating for many years," stated Prudhomme. "This year's Idaho potato contest was a fun new twist. We knew we had an amazing dish to present the judgesâ€¦ And a little magic always helps," he added with a wink.
Other chefs participating in the contest included heavy hitters such as Michael Mina (XIV), Lydia Shire (Scampo) and Nancy Silverton (Mozza). Dishes were judged on the best use of the product (i.e. potatoes), originality of recipe, flavor and presentation.
"Once again, we were awed by the level of competition created by these chefs," commented Frank Muir, IPC President/CEO and one of the judges. "Last year's contest set the bar pretty high, and so we had big expectations for the quality of recipes we'd be tasting. They definitely did not disappoint. And the best part is that each chef participated knowing that they walked away with a pat on the back - The $10,000 prize went to Meals on Wheels!"
The American Wine & Food Festival, founded by Wolfgang Puck and Barbara Lazaroff, drew a crowd of nearly 2,500 to the intimate setting of Universal Studios' back lot. Feasting on fare served up by 40 celebrity chefs and 70 fine wine and spirits purveyors, and bidding on auction items that money (literally) cannot buy under other circumstances, the festival benefits Los Angeles area Meals-on-Wheels programs.
Although Idaho is famous worldwide for its premium potatoes, some consumers 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.