Nov 21, 2022
Potato Expo: A quick Q&A with Chef Simon Majumdar

Celebrity-level culinary entertainment and the wonderful world of potatoes are converging at the upcoming Potato Expo after a Twitter exchange among Food Network personalities brought new attention to the event.

International food and travel writer Chef Simon Majumdar, along with Potatoes USA Culinary Director R.J. Harvey, is ready for action. Majumdar will be competing against Chef Duff Goldman, of Ace of Cakes fame, in a friendly potato-themed cook-off. In the meantime, Spudman asked Majumdar a few questions about this versatile vegetable.

Looking at potatoes as an international ingredient, what are a few dishes that are the most different from one another?

In India, potatoes are used in many ways that might seem unusual to us today in America. The Kolkata biryani (a rice dish) is not complete without the addition of potatoes, and they are used in aloo puri, which is a popular breakfast item throughout India. In Germany, they are used as the encasement for dumplings. And in China, they are used in stir-fries and deep, rich potato dishes, like stir fried eggplant and potatoes. In Bulgaria, potatoes are used as simple yet delicious garlic and dill potatoes. And in Korea, they are used as gamja-jeon (a potato pancake mixed with scallions).

The truth is potatoes are becoming popular all over the globe, which makes me very happy indeed.

We have yet to reach peak potato, so what are you hoping to see happen in the culinary world regarding potatoes? Or, are there any trends that you’re seeing now?

I think that the first element is the introduction of new varieties from Peru to the U.S. farming community. There are people who are already creating these new types of potatoes for the American market, if only yet as a niche area of their farm. But it will become bigger and bigger.

I also think that the American way of thinking of potatoes as just a “side dish” will be changing soon. It will remain, but with the help of people like R.J., it will become more applicable to a wider use. I use potato starch in my fish and chip batter. I make main course potato gnocchi. I use potatoes in many, many ways, not just as boiled or chipped, lovely as those are.

What do you enjoy about participating in Potato Expo, and what are you hoping to get out of it this time around?

For me, it is about the people who are involved in the non-eating side. The people who are involved in growing, farming, sustaining, etc. This is an area I had never really considered before. It is an area that might seem less glamorous than the culinary side, but is no less vital. I look forward to meeting more of these folks as I wander around the expo.

Any recommendations for getting more potatoes on more plates?

Find ways to show the wonderful American citizens what a potato can do. How it can be made into a sauce, into a main dish of gnocchi, into a main dish that blows your mind. Focus as well on the young people who have been taught that potatoes are “the enemy” when they really are not.

Whose team is going to win? (People need to place their bets.)

Well, of course, it is going to be my team with R.J. Put your money on us. You won’t be let down.

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P.O. Box 128
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