by Issa Quirante, Business Mirror
People have their own way of doing and saying things. It doesn't mean one or the other is right; it's just that there are a variety of ways one can do something, variety being the operative word.
This is also true when it comes to cooking different dishes using one main ingredient, which renowned chef Sau del Rosario showed during the launch of his mini cookbook, Tasteful Taters, recently at Restaurant Verbena in Discovery Country Suites, Tagaytay City, Philippines. The cookbook-Chef Sau calls it a booklet-is a compilation of innovative recipes using different kinds of US frozen potatoes.
Under the initiative of the United States Potato Board (USPB), the main function of which is to spread the good news about potatoes and its health benefits, and in response to the clamor of chefs of hotels and high-end restaurants to expand and refine the culinary repertoire of the versatile tuber, Chef Sau developed menus-some a little bit more fancy than the usual fare-to highlight the flexibility and versatility of the potato, which can be prepared as a quick snack or served as a feast with the finest meats, herbs and garnishing.
Helping chefs so they can better understand and work with the different types of potatoes is important as the Philippines is now the seventh-largest market in the world, and the largest in Southeast Asia, for U.S. frozen potatoes. The potato is one of the top five most important crops worldwide, together with wheat, corn, rice and sugar cane.
Tasteful Taters features some of the most popular dishes from the Philippines and all over the world, with each one tried, tested and given five-star treatment.
In all these, various U.S. frozen potato products take on a starring role. Chef Sau's cooking demonstration included making eggs Benedict using U.S. frozen potato hash browns instead of the usual bread or English muffins; while U.S. frozen curly potatoes, replacing the pasta, lend an earthy elegance to his version of "spaghetti" carbonara. Chef Sau also showed how potatoes can be served as dessert by preparing potato macaroons, this time using U.S. frozen potato rounds.
"Did you know you can even make desserts out of potatoes? I've made a white chocolate potato tort," said Chef Sau. "I also made soup and a very nice gnocchi. I've probably made 50 dishes already, from merienda to dessert, out of U.S. frozen potatoes. It is one of my favorite ingredients in my kitchen and [that's why] I'm so honored to be part of this project."
He added that the 10 recipes that made it to the cookbook are not only ideal for housewives to try, but for restaurants as well.
"I am a convert of the U.S. frozen potato because it gives me consistency, which is a very common problem in restaurants," the chef said "Did you notice sometimes when you come back to a restaurant, the food is not as good as before? With U.S. frozen potatoes, you are guaranteed of consistency. It is also very flexible, economical and practical."
The prolific chef is also coming up with his own cookbook this month in commemoration of his 20th year in the industry in 2014. Needless to say, U.S. frozen potatoes are used in not a few of his recipes for the cookbook.
The USPB, for its part, thanked Chef Sau for helping promote and clear misconceptions about frozen potatoes, debunking the perception that "frozen" is not nutritious. U.S. frozen potatoes are harvested from the field when they are very fresh and go straight to the processing plant, where they go through a highly mechanized and safe freezing process.
The USPB has always believed in the work and talent of Filipinos in the food industry, and has pursued in its commitment to nourish their creative spirit by providing various opportunities for chefs, caterers and restaurant owners to explore the versatility of U.S. potato products.