"What I found so valuable about this tour was being able to see the entire process in a two-day adventure. From the laboratory to the testing facility to the fields, it was absolutely intriguing," said Jerry Garcia, Executive Chef of Coast Restaurant, Milwaukee, Wis. Wisconsin chefs were brought together for a two-day tour to meet passionate Wisconsin potato growers, tour a potato farm, and hear from the state's leading potato researchers.
Their host, the Wisconsin Potato & Vegetable Growers Association (WPVGA) conducted a taste test with several potato varieties to get the opinions of these Wisconsin chefs. "It was fun to offer flavor suggestions and color profiles as to what works in the restaurant," said Garcia. It is very forward thinking of the WPVGA and University of Wisconsin- Madison Researchers to bring together chefs and media to bounce around ideas on how to better grow and breed potatoes for use in foodservice. WPVGA invited the chefs because they recognize the value of the chefs' opinions in setting the nation's food trends.
Wisconsin Healthy Grown Potatoes was another highlight of the tour. Attendees visited the International Crane Foundation (Baraboo, WI) and learned how Wisconsin potato farmers are working with environmental organizations to produce a potato that's, "Good for you, good for the environment."
As always, the chefs enjoyed eating innovative, delicious Wisconsin potato dishes throughout the tour. WPVGA hosted a dinner at Magnus Restaurant where Leonardo Guevara, one of the members of last year's tour, is Executive Chef. Guevara loves using Wisconsin potatoes in his menu preparations. Guevara developed the evening's menu to feature five unique varieties of Wisconsin potatoes.
"I learned so much about Wisconsin potatoes on the tour last year by eating different potato dishes throughout the tour, being introduced to all the varieties that are available to restaurants, and being right there in the fields with them and their growers. I really wanted to show everyone on this year's tour some new, creative ways to utilize the range of specialty varieties Wisconsin offers," explained Guevara.
"It is very exciting and encouraging talking to chefs and seeing their excitement about the continued variety development of Wisconsin potatoes" summed up Mike Carter, executive director of WPGVA.