Star chef cultivates potato’s profile

Star chef cultivates potato’s profile
25 Sept 2017 - Mark Abbott, head chef at CambridgeÕs Michelin-starred Midsummer House and star on BBC TwoÕs Great British Menu competition, demonstrates potato dishes at Deans, Belfast. Picture: Cliff Donaldson

NI-born Mark Abbot was back in Belfast this week showcasing his award-winning potato dishes.

Mark’s potatoes earned him top marks on BBC2’s Great British Menu. Now he has teamed up with the Northern Ireland-based ‘Mighty Spud’ campaign to tackle public misconceptions surrounding the vegetable.

The campaign was launched in a bid to tackle the potato’s ebbing popularity in the last decade. However, the last three years have witnessed an increase in sales as the potato battles back against competitor carbohydrates.

Mark, who is head chef in the two Michelin-starred Midsummer House in Cambridge, was in Deane’s Eipic on Monday treating guests to his selection of potato-based dishes, created using only the finest locally-sourced crops.

Speaking at the showcase, Mark, who comes originally from Antrim, said, “I grew up in a very traditional family and farming is in our blood. Up until I discovered a love for cooking, farming was all I knew and all I what I wanted to do! Whether it was breakfast, lunch or dinner, potatoes were on the menu in our house, but what many people don’t realise is, every variety of potato has its uses and I am proud that I was able to showcase this during my time on Great British Menu.”

Figures released last year by the Agriculture and Horticulture Board reveal that the number of potatoes sold in the UK has increased by 1.4 per cent in the last year. Deputy president of the Farmers’ Union, Ivor Ferguson, believes this indicates the re-emergence of the potato as the UK’s favoured dinnertime vegetable.

He said on Monday, “Recent figures can offer reassurance on purchasing habits and it’s really encouraging to see that after three years of hard work, we have started to see negative trends reversed.”

Our picture above shows Mark hard at work in the kitchen’s at Michelin-starred Eipic in Belfast.