CHICAGO, ILLINOIS, June 21, 2004 - The Idaho Potato Commission feted special media guests with an elegant and informative luncheon event held today at Spiaggia -- Chicago's only four-star Italian restaurant as rated by the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Magazine.
Held on the first official day of summer, Spiaggia's Executive Chef Tony Mantuano and the IPC collaborated to create a menu that celebrated the season, while also demonstrating the versatility of America's top-selling potato.
While guests enjoyed the world-class Italian cuisine, IPC President and CEO Frank Muir presented an overview of the Idaho Potato industry, including details concerning the 2003 harvest, which produced an estimated 13 billion pounds of potatoes. According to Muir, the industry forecasts another banner growing season for the Idaho Potato in 2004.
The event venue and the custom-designed menu were selected purposely to underscore the popularity of global cuisine, particularly Italian, in America.
Joining Muir in the remarks portion of the luncheon were Don Odiorne, VP of IPC Foodservice and the IPC's nutritionist expert, consultant Riska Platt, RD. Also on hand to meet and address the media was Commissioner Rich Mita.
"We are honored to have this opportunity to meet and talk with members of the foodservice media about the Idaho Potato and our industry," said Muir at the event. "The Idaho Potato has been and continues to be a mainstay food in restaurants and other foodservice operations across the United States. Our potato is an incredibly versatile vegetable and lends itself to an astonishing array of international cuisine styles. Thanks to the Idaho Potato's consistently high solids content, it cooks evenly - regardless of how it is prepared. Baked potatoes are fluffier, mashed lighter and fries crispier - we are really proud of a product that offers such versatility and reliability."
Chef Mantuano's menu ranged from Bacala and Idaho Potato Fritters to Corzetti Pasta with King Crab, Idaho Potatoes, Green Beans and Pesto, to an Idaho Potato Crusted Black Bass with Arugula. Light and flavorful, the menu reflected a bounty of springtime offerings.
Chef Mantuano spoke to the audience and delivered a memorable point addressing the nutritional attributes of potatoes. "Chefs everywhere appreciate Idaho Potatoes not only because they perform well, thanks to their high solids content, but they provide a strong nutritional base to any dish," Chef Mantuano said. "There really isn't any reason why diners have to sacrifice their nutritional standards when they eat out - there are so many healthy options, like potatoes, that can be prepared in low-fat and low-calorie ways."
By way of introduction to Platt (the IPC's nutritionist consultant), Muir referenced the "carbs movement" in America and noted that the IPC has been steadfast in its belief that any diet that advocates the elimination of an entire food group is not doing Americans any favors.
Muir also discussed recent news reports concerning medical studies finding that low carb diets appear to be on similar footing as numerous other commercial diets: effective for temporary trimming, but unproven as a method for reducing weight-related risks over a lifetime.
"The studies validated what we've known all along - healthy-minded individuals can continue to enjoy vegetables, like Idaho Potatoes, without experiencing the angst of whether the carbs are 'good' or 'bad.' Potatoes are naturally good for you and they are as delicious as they are nutritious. Plus, a medium potato only has 100 calories and thus comes with packaged portion control."
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 Idaho® Potatoes and the "Grown in Idaho®" seal 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. The IPC includes growers, shippers and processors.