Eagle, ID, October 10, 2007--Wolfgang Puck and five of his world renowned chef friends leapt at the chance to partner with the Idaho Potato Commission
(IPC) for the first ever recipe contest at the 25th Anniversary American Wine & Food Festival (AWFF). Star chefs already bringing their "A game" to the festival in the name of charity, stepped it up another notch to compete for a $10,000 charitable donation in their name.
Chef Nobu Matsuhisa was the first to step forward and announce he'd participate in this unprecedented opportunity at AWFF. Whether it was the spirit of charity or of competition that drove him, Nobu's determination was apparent in the three (yes three!) dishes he entered. Utilizing everything from the classic Idaho Russet Burbank to several of the new Idaho Fingerling and Yukon Gold varieties, Nobu pulled out all the stops.
"Wolfgang puts on a great event and I've always enjoyed being a part of it," stated Matsuhisa. "This year there was a twist with the Idaho Potato recipe contest that made it interesting. I wanted to show the judges something they'd never tasted before."
Nobu's Idaho Potato Sikyo-yaki (a marinated potato with miso sauce) and Idaho Potato Salad had judges swooning, but it was the Idaho Roll that locked up the competition for him. Frank Muir, IPC President/CEO and contest judge, joked with Nobu that the Idaho Roll might someday surpass the California Roll in popularity on sushi bar menus. Nobu responded with a coy smile and a remark that he would consider adding it to his own menu.
"We were awed by the level of competition created by these chefs," commented Muir. "We had high expectations for the quality of recipes we'd be tasting, but they blew us away. 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!"
Other chefs participating in the contest included heavy hitters such as Joachim Splichal (Patina), Yuji Wakiya (Wakiya Ichiemicharo), Juilan Serrano (Picasso) and Frank Ostini (Hitching Post). Dishes were judged on the best use of the product (i.e. potatoes), originality of recipe, flavor and presentation.
"It's very exciting to have a sponsor join us and do something really creative," said Wolfgang Puck. "A little friendly competition among the chefs helped us raise even more money for Meals-on-Wheels."
The American Wine & Food Festival, founded by Wolfgang Puck and Barbara Lazaroff, drew a crowd of nearly 3,000 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. The books are not yet closed on this year's 25th anniversary spectacular, however, event coordinators believe they will top last year's 1.5 Million Dollars.
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.
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* Additional photos of the event, plus food photography and Nobu Matsuhisa's winning recipes are available upon request.