By Sarah Skerrett, Mr. Food Editor
Heated arguments have never settled the eternal debate on pronunciation – potayto or potahto? – but one certainty emerged last weekend at the Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival: Chef Carlos Barilla (of Beer & Burger Joint in Miami Beach) channeled his love of spuds into a grand-prize winning side dish, Truffle Baked Potato Salad.
With very own Mr. Food, aka Art Ginsburg, on the judging panel and hosted by Rachael Ray, the fifth annual Amstel Light Burger Bash® invited top chefs from around the country to battle for the best burger. The Idaho Potato Commission upped the ante for a good cause and challenged Burger Bash® participants to create an outstanding side dish using Idaho® potatoes. The Grand Prize was a $5,000 donation to Florida International University, made by the IPC on behalf of Chef Barilla.
The IPC Side Dish challenge tested the chefs’ ability to think outside the box and get creative with the potato, a frequent dinner side and fast-food staple. Mr. Food and fellow judges Frank Muir and Don Odiorne of the IPC scored competing side dishes 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. We knew the winner had been identified when Mr. Food had a taste of the Truffle Baked Potato Salad and declared, “OOH IT’S SO GOOD!!”
Mr. Food also praised the chefs for their inventive interpretations of a classic vegetable…even one that might not be so exciting or trendy. “I understand the needs of how America cooks and am always on the look out for innovative, great-tasting recipes that use every day staples, like Idaho® potatoes. Tonight’s side dishes wowed all of us,” said Mr. Food. “It’s so important to stay motivated in the kitchen and try something new. The dishes we sampled tonight were a true tribute to the chefs’ ingenuity. Have fun while you’re cooking; think out of the box and experiment – your friends and family will love you for it!”
Now in its tenth year, the Food Network SOBE Wine & Food Festival is presented by Food & Wine and draws foodies from all over, as well as a host of celebrity chefs in the Food Network family such as Bobby Flay, Paula Deen, Giada De Laurentiis, Emeril Lagasse, and many more. Over 50,000 wine and food lovers attended this fabulous four-day event festival to see the world’s most renowned chefs and wine and spirit producers up-close and personal.
Inspired to whip up some fun new potato dishes? Find simple and great-tasting recipes like From the Field to the Fork Idaho Potatoes and Potato Plank Bruschetta on Mr. Food! For recipes, tips and additional information about Idaho® potatoes, visit www.idahopotato.com.