Potatoes are deemed a comfort food in nearly every world cuisine—and for good reason. “There are so many positive things to say about putting potatoes on the menu,” says Maeve Webster, President of Menu Matters, a consultancy focused on helping foodservice operators and food manufacturers analyze, understand and leverage trends. Webster has noticed a dimming of the “no white foods” movement, finding that potatoes are more popular than ever.
Simple, cost-effective and popular: What’s not to love?
That’s good news for all sides of your operation. From a prep perspective, potatoes are easy for non-skilled workers to prepare, they last longer than fresh greens, and they don’t require refrigeration. Even as prices for other produce continue to climb, they remain relatively inexpensive. In the front of the house, they are a diners’ comfort food dream no matter how they’re prepared: mashed, baked, fried, au gratin, roasted, chips, croquettes, gnocchi, hash browns or pancakes. Varieties can include more than the usual russet–fingerling, heirloom and sweet potatoes can also be key players in new dishes.
“If you want to explore adventurous flavors and global spices, it’s great to start with potatoes as a base, since that’s one ingredient that’s familiar to diners,” Webster says. “They really allow you to showcase creativity.” She’s been seeing uncommon potato dishes pop up on menus using North African spice blends like ras el hanout or the chili pepper paste harissa, both of which add spiciness without too much heat. “I’ve also seen versions of Indian tater tots, using spices like panch phoron, turmeric and cayenne,” she says. In Minnesota, Hmong-American chef Yia Vang has gained fame for his Hmong Hotdish, which features parsnips, carrots, bamboo, red coconut curry sauce, seasoned pork sausage and a tater tot topping.
“Respect the spud”
Is it possible to have a menu that features nothing but potatoes? Check out Potatopia restaurants, located in Florida, New York and New Jersey. With a tagline of “respect the spud,” the eatery offers a “base” bowl with nine different potato options, including baked, fried, mashed and tater tots, accompanied by even more choices of protein, toppings, cheese and sauce. Looking for a way to serve up spuds in dessert form? Try crinkle fries served with glazed walnut praline and topped with whipped cream.
From Crispy Sweet Potato Ribbons to Totchos (Tator Tot Nachos) to Sweet Potato Doughnuts, this Huffington Post slide show features several trendy new ways to serve up spuds
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