Potatoes were a major focus at this year's Worlds of Flavor (WOF) Conference at the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) at Greystone in Napa Valley, Calif., November 12-14.
The conference theme was World Street Foods and World Comfort Foods, themes perfectly suited to showcasing the versatility and universal appeal of "America's Favorite Vegetable."
The USPB, a silver sponsor of the event, was represented at the conference by Chef Jose Luis Ugalde, chef and owner of two restaurants near Half Moon Bay, just south of San Francisco: Café Gibraltar, a Mediterranean fusion restaurant, and Chez Shea, an international café. Members of the USPB executive committee, including USPB Chairman Tom Qualey, and the co-chairs of the Domestic Marketing Committee, Todd Michael and Shane Webster, represented the USPB at this prestigious conference, along with Tim O'Connor, USPB President & CEO, and Kathleen Triou, Vice President, Domestic Marketing.
Committee members talked with Chef Ugalde about the wide variety of potatoes he serves and his innovative preparations. "In my restaurants, potatoes are used in many different ways," said Chef Ugalde, "Some of my favorite potatoes are braised, wood roasted, made into croquettes, or puréed into vegan soups."
Chef Ugalde served unique international dishes for each of the conference's three marketplace events: Patatas con Chiparones al Ajillo, a Spanish dish of braised russet potatoes topped with tender, lemony calamari; Patates Bastisi, a traditional Turkish dish featuring a medley of potato varietals; and Singapore Style Pork & Potato Croquettes, a crispy panko-covered potato cake filled with rich pulled pork and topped with his own plum sauce.
But the USPB's booth wasn't the only place potatoes were getting attention. The Apulia Region of Italy served a number of potato dishes during their presentation, including a baked mussel and potato dish and a potato-topped pizza.
From Rick Bayless' Thursday evening demonstration of Tacos Tinga filled with potatoes, tomatoes, chipotle, onions and shredded chicken to the Indian Potato Paani Puri served during the Saturday morning break, there's no question the versatile potato is a global favorite.