Wisconsin Potato and Vegetable Growers Association

Wisconsin Potatoes Create Camaraderie on TV

Do you ever find yourself watching a cooking show on TV and getting caught up in it to the extent that you can’t wait to try making what the individual prepared on the show?

Cooking and eating have long been two activities that are part of social gatherings and friendly camaraderie. Food brings people together.

It was food that brought people together on Friday, July 12, at the Elkhorn Rib Fest which was held at the Walworth County Fairgrounds in Elkhorn. The second annual Wisconsin Potato Chef Competition featured three teams that were composed of a Wisconsin grower and a chef from the southern part of the state. The teams were as follows:

  • Team 1
    Michael Gatz of Bushmans’ Inc. in Rosholt
    Chef Dan Grzenia of The Fireside Theatre in Fort Atkinson
  • Team 2
    Tom Bulgrin of Gumz Farms in Endeavor
    Chef Jonathan Mellor of Fiddlesticks Bistro in Elkhorn
  • Team 3
    Christine Lindner of Alsum Farms in Friesland
    Chef David Ross of IDM Hospitality in Madison

Each team was tasked with creating potato-centric dishes for an appetizer in 30 minutes, a main dish in 45 minutes and a dessert in 30 minutes. But this wasn’t the only challenge. Each round included a mystery ingredient. For the appetizer round the mystery ingredient was Wisconsin-grown cranberries from Grygleski Family Ocean Spray Growers in Tomah, WI. The main dish round mystery ingredient was Wisconsin-grown ginseng from Monk Farm in Kent, WI, and for the dessert round, each team had to utilize Wisconsin-produced honey from David Koester in Elkhorn, WI. And the only equipment each team could use to prepare their food was a butane burner and a Big Green Egg Grill, provided by the Big Green Egg Grills specially for the event.

It was truly fascinating to see all the unique creations and ideas that came from each team for each round. The three judges, who were namely, Alex Okray from Okray Family Farms in Plover, Mike Essman from the Big Green Egg Grills, and Fast Freddie, who is the piano player for Mad Dog and Merrill, provided points to the teams for each round. Their specifications were based on creativity, taste, saleability and appearance.

Each team received a certain number of points from each judge for each round. At the end of the dessert round, all the points from the three rounds were added up. And the team with the most points won first place, the team with the second number of points won second place and so on.

As a prize, each chef walked away with a cutting board engraved Powered by Wisconsin Potatoes logo, a gift card and a Wisconsin potato shipping directory. Each grower received a wooden bowl engraved with the Powered by Wisconsin Potatoes logo.

Another fun aspect of this event is that it will be a television episode that will air on Sunday, July 28, on the Midwest Grill’n show hosted by Mad Dog and Merrill. Mad Dog and Merrill are a grilling duo who understand food and find creative ways of grilling food that often times includes Wisconsin potatoes.

So what was the outcome of the chef competition? You’ll have to watch the episode this weekend to find out! Visit this link and check your local listings for times and channels: www.MadDogandMerrill.com.

Happy summer grilling and cooking with Wisconsin potatoes, America’s favorite vegetable!

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