Chef: Taste can play key role in potato marketing

Chef and Oregon Potato Commission public member Leif Benson serves toppings at the Washington-Oregon Potato Conference Jan. 25 in Kennewick, Wash. Benson is exploring ways to market the taste of potatoes.Quick: Describe the taste of a potato. But there’s a catch. Don’t use the word “potato” while describing it. “It’s a tricky thing,” said Leif Benson, retired Portland chef and a public member of the Oregon Potato Commission, “Potatoes have a very complex flavor. It’s not an easy thing to pin down.” Benson would like to see the industry consider the taste of a potato more. He provided an update on his efforts during the recent Washington-Oregon Potato Conference in Kennewick, Wash. The commission began offering a taste award in 2012. Every December, Benson brings in 20 chefs to conduct a sensory evaluation of 40 to 50 different potato samples. The chefs judge the potatoes for taste, texture, aroma and appearance. “Every year we do this, the chefs are completely amazed at how differently these potatoes taste, depending on variety and where they’re grown,” Benson said. All potatoes are prepared at the same time, boiled or baked depending on the best way to bring out their flavor. Capital Press