South Beach Sizzles as America's Culinary Elite Compete in Idaho® Potato Side Dish Challenge

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EAGLE, ID, February 19, 2009 -- The country's top chefs battled it out at the third annual South Beach Wine and Food Festival's Burger Bash hosted by Rachael Ray. Not only were their skills at the grill tested as they bumped the beloved burger to new culinary heights, but Idaho Potato Commission (IPC) -- a Silver Sponsor of the Festival -- challenged ten of the best in the business to go a step further and prepare a prize-winning Idaho® potato side dish. The Grand Prize was a $5,000 donation to Florida International University made by the IPC on behalf of Chef Wallack.

The popular chefs had their work cut out for them as they earnestly peeled and prepped for a panel of Idaho® potato experts. The judging team included Frank Muir, IPC President & CEO; Don Odiorne, IPC Vice President, Foodservice and none other than Nationally Syndicated TV personality "Mr. Food," aka Art Ginsburg. "The IPC is continually amazed with the creativity and caliber of potato-driven dishes," said Frank Muir. "The chefs here this evening outdid themselves once again! After a rigorous round of tasting and tallying scorecards, we awarded the Grand Prize to Chef Wallack for her Sola Idaho Potato Truffle Fries."

"As someone who loves quick and easy dinner solutions, I am always on the look-out for tasty recipes that use readily available ingredients, like potatoes, and these talented chefs have taken the American food icon, the Idaho® potato, to 'celebrity food' status," said Mr. Food (Art Ginsburg). "Recipes like the ones I tasted at the Idaho Potato Commission Side Dish Challenge will definitely motivate anyone at home to try something new!"

Chef Wallack's Idaho Potato Truffle Fries are hand-cut fries drizzled with truffle oil and sprinkled with Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. "I use the best, fresh ingredients that are available, said Chef Wallack. "And the best potatoes for certain come from Idaho."

Foodservice operators nationwide use Idaho® potatoes regularly because of their versatility, cost effectiveness and consistent performance. "Idaho's rich, volcanic soil yields a potato with a high solids and starch content. High solids and low moisture content means you will get less shrinkage and more potato taste with your dishes -- something we all need to be conscious of in these tight economic times," said Don Odiorne. "Chef Wallack's Idaho Potato Truffle Fries are a perfect example of how cost effectively and well Idaho® potatoes perform."

In addition to the Side Dish Challenge, IPC also hosted an Idaho® Potato Fresh Chips booth which was run by Florida International University students. All of the event attendees were able to sample the best Idaho® potato chips on earth!

The side dishes were judged on a five point scale for each of the following criteria: Use of Product, Originality, Presentation and Flavor. The side dish with the highest total score captured the Grand Prize. Other participating chefs included:

  • Randy Garutti of Shake Shack, New York, NY - Yukon Gold Idaho® French Fries

  • Alex Gray, Every Day with Rachael Ray Contest Winner - Roasted Idaho® Potato Wedges with Pesto Drizzle

  • Katie Lee Joel, author of Comfort Table, New York, NY and Milton, West Virginia - Homemade Idaho® Potato Chips

  • Tim Nickey of Kobe Club, South Beach, FL - Shoestring Truffle Parmesan Idaho Potato Fries & Fresh Corn Salad

  • Jake Linsinmeir of X Café in Telluride, CO - Fresh Shaved Truffle and Rosemary Potatoes

  • Masaharu Morimoto of Morimoto, New York, NY - Wasabi Mashed Idaho® Potatoes

  • Miguel Santiago of Pier 66 - Lobster and Idaho® Potato Fritter with Lime and Habanero Aioli

  • Andrew Garrison of Schotts, Central Falls, RI - Idaho® Potato Fries with Jalapeno Mayonnaise

  • David Walzog of SW Steakhouse, Las Vegas, NV - Crisp Idaho® Potatoes on a Stick with Roasted Garlic Ketchup

About South Beach Wine & Food Festival
The Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival is a national, star-studded, four-day destination event showcasing the talents of the world's most renowned wine and spirits producers, chefs and culinary personalities.

About the Idaho Potato Commission
The Idaho Potato Commission is a state agency that is primarily responsible for expanding the markets for Idaho grown potatoes through advertising, promotion and research. The Commission also protects the use of the "Idaho® potato" and "Grown in Idaho®" seals, which 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.