Empowering potato consumption through culinary innovation
Have you ever thought about making gnocchi from your favorite potato chips? How about making flavorful potato pickles or pierogies that take you to Mexico with each bite? Or how to master the ultimate baked potatoes or potato salad?
The Potatoes USA culinary department goes beyond the expected ways to cook with potatoes, showcasing potatoes in dishes everyone craves.
The culinary department is a resource for all of the marketing programs and the entire potato industry. While culinary embraces the target audiences from all of the program, the primary focus is consumers and chefs. These audiences are inspired to increase potato usage through vibrant food photography, enticing recipes and descriptions, and helpful food prep tips.
Chef RJ Harvey, culinary director, and Chef Vince Armada, executive sous chef, are leading the culinary efforts and collectively bring more than 25 years of experience to the kitchen. They provide food trends, research and development, nutrition and food science knowledge, and fine dining cooking techniques to craft mouthwatering creations. These recipes are developed to meet the challenges and opportunities of each target audience. For instance, consumers want to see the simplicity of recipes and how they can come together in minutes while still being full of flavors that everyone in the family will love. Foodservice operators are motivated to menu more potatoes in interesting ways when they see inspiring yet simplistic recipes.
In just the past eight months, the culinary team has developed over 90 potato recipes, which revolve around categories such as global bowl concepts, potato sandwiches, seasonal salads, air fryer concepts, tater tailgate dishes, simple school night suppers and shareable appetizers. Stylized food photos are then taken in-house to accompany each dish to bring the recipes to life.
The culinary team further engages with consumers and chefs by filming cooking demonstrations, hosting live training sessions in the spud lab and traveling to events around the world. The cooking demonstrations are used to educate chefs, registered dietitians, nutritionists, and consumers on the best ways to prepare potatoes. These cooking demonstrations are often collaborations with industry experts, including chefs from potato processors, state organizations, celebrity chefs, and nutrition experts who are excited to be in the spud lab talking about America’s favorite vegetable. These videos are then showcased on PotatoGoodness.com, Potatoes USA social channels via Instagram, Facebook and YouTube, or are broadcasted on webinars for training opportunities.
Innovation is key to helping chef operators in foodservice understand the possibilities with potatoes. The culinary team hosts innovation sessions in the spud lab to help tailor potato-centric recipes to meet a brand’s identity. The spud lab is the hub for providing this hands-on training. With six workstations and state-of-the-art technology, eager participants get to command their own space while learning helpful hacks, best practices, and the endless possibilities of cooking with potatoes. Crispy potatoes in a crunch wrap for Taco Bell? No problem! Loaded fry dishes for Twin Peaks? You bet! Culinary has worked with some of the nation’s top brands and is responsible for getting fantastic potato menu options in front of consumers, which certainly drives demand. These chef workshops and innovation sessions can be hosted in the spud lab, conducted virtually, or the culinary team hits the road to educate operators on their home turf.
With every new image, and every enticing description of each new recipe, the Potatoes USA culinary department aids all the marketing programs in the mission of getting more people to eat more potatoes in more ways. Keep checking out PotatoGoodness.com to see what new inspiration the culinary department has cooked up.
— RJ Harvey is the culinary director for Potatoes USA, the marketing arm of the U.S. potato industry.
Top photo: Shawarma Spiced Potato Bowl. Chefs are looking for globally inspired bowl concepts, here the flavors of Lebanon come together in this plant-based fresh potato bowl, featuring middle eastern spiced russets, tahini dressing and fresh cucumber and tomato salad. (Potatoes USA)