HOSTING a Thanksgiving Dinner has been an annual tradition for the United States Potato Board (USPB), the promotion and marketing organization for U.S. Potatoes. This year was no different. But since the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) activities in Manila took place towards the end of November, the USPB, led by global foodservices marketing manager Susan Weller and Philippine representatives Reji Retugal-Onal and Evelyn Mercurio, had the wisdom of moving the annual Thanksgiving Dinner to first week of December.
It finally took place at Terraz Bistro & Meetings on the second floor of the chic Zuellig Building in Makati, with Terraz’s talented executive chef Arnold Gozon taking charge of the kitchen. He joined the league of Chefs Sau Del Rosario, Myrna Segismundo, Ariel Manuel, who have had the honor of preparing the USPB’s Thanksgiving Dinner in the past.
After all, more than just to thank friends, clients, importers and distributors, and industry partners for supporting U.S. Potatoes, the USPB’s annual Thanksgiving Dinner was a showcase of just how versatile U.S. Potatoes can be as the featured chef revolved his (or her) sit-down menu around the different cuts of U.S. Potatoes available in the local market.
But of course the star of thanksgiving is and always will be the Roast Turkey, which differed only in the interpretation and rendition of the featured chef. In the case of Chef Arnold, his Thanksgiving Roast Turkey was accompanied by Cranberry Sauce and Giblet Sauce to give diners one sweet and one savory sauce to enjoy with carvings of the big bird. On the side, there was Bread Pudding.
Chef Arnold’s sit-down menu consisted of an appetizer of Frozen Half Shells Macaire Potato Cake with Crabmeat Avocado and Sesame Ahi Tuna Salad, followed by a hearty Manhattan Seafood Chowder with IQF Hash Brown Potato Croquette in Smoked Bacon Wrap, impressively served fondue style—and with a glass of Beringer Chardonnay, CA, 2014, to boot.
Main course was U.S. Granules and Potato Flakes Gnocchi with Oven Roasted Rosemary Pork Belly with Star Anise Figs Sauce, and Pistachio Codfish, Preserved Lemon and Mustard Cream Sauce. After the guests shall have enjoyed this delightful main course, Chef Arnold and his team started carving the Roast Turkey and serving it as the ultimate celebration of Thanksgiving. Aptly paired with it was a glass of Beringer “Founder Estate” Pinot Noir, CA, 2013.
A beautiful Blueberry Filled Pound Cupcake Topped with Crunchy Maple Basket Weave Potato served as the fitting sweet finale to the meal. This was accompanied by a glass of Valdivieso Moscato, Demi Sec, Chile, 2014.
The Thanksgiving Dinner was well-attended. Sharing meals and conversations were Chefs Sandy Daza, Myrna Segismundo, Kalel Chan, Sharwin Tee and Editha Singian, who mingled with US importers, distributors, clients, partners and supporters, media friends, and U.S. Embassy officials led by Agricultural Attache Jeffrey Albanese and Agricultural Counselor Ralph Bean.
USPB officials also took advantage of the event to present their #USPotatoesForACause campaign, an ongoing social media campaign that encourages people to share their own potato recipes on the USPB Facebook page. The USPB’s commitment is that for every potato recipe shared, it will donate 1 kilogram of U.S. Dehydrated Potato product to its partner orphanages, Tahanan ng Pagmamahal and Bahay Maria.
“Potatoes have always been a hit among Filipino food lovers. They are naturally delicious, rich in nutrients and wonderfully versatile. The USPB is helping food establishments and professionals around the country respond to this demand by providing them with a steady supply of consistently high-quality U.S. Potatoes. So they can focus their energies on making their establishments more productive and introducing innovative dishes that their consumers will enjoy,” says Retugal-Onal.
Weller adds: “The Philippines is our No. 1 market in Southeast Asia for U.S. Potatoes. When it used to be only frozen and dehydrated potato products being brought in to the country, now fresh potatoes, including unique ones like Russet, Fingerlings, Purple and Blue, are coming in.”