Belfast Telegraph

No more spud bashing as Mark Abbott demonstrates his gourmet recipe

By Rebecca Black

The Ulster-born chef who brought the humble spud to a House of Commons banquet has recreated his Ordinary to Extraordinary dish for a home audience.

Mark Abbott cooked up the dish that brought him victory on the BBC's Great British Menu which showcases the potato by using five varieties of the Irish favourite.

Since appearing on the show, Mark has partnered with a group of potato producers and growers in Northern Ireland to fight back against negative trends which had shown consumption of the crop was in decline.

The Mighty Spud campaign, a promotion championed by the industry, has been running for three years now, battling for the potato's place as king of the dinner table.

Figures released in August 2016 from the UK Agriculture and Horticulture Board show, for the first time in a decade, consumption is up by 1.4% year-on-year in the UK.

Mark put on a culinary showcase at Belfast restaurant Deanes Eipic yesterday, using only locally grown Northern Ireland potatoes (Maris Pipers, Peers, Roosters, Charlottes and Purple Magic) to recreate his award-winning dish, which includes up to 17 elements - butter, milk, mashed potato, potato, truffle and onion airbag, bacon basket, purple potato salad, garlic creamed potato, crispy potato skins, champ croquette, pickled onion puree, baby onion petals, curly chives, nasturtiums, pomme souffle, bacon jelly and baked potato infusion.

Mark Abbott revealed that farming is in his blood and was almost his future until he discovered his love of cooking.

"Whether it was breakfast, lunch or dinner, potatoes were on the menu in our house, but what many people don't realise is that 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," he said.

Ivor Ferguson, deputy president of the Ulster Farmers' Union, said he couldn't think of a better ambassador for the potato, adding that he was blown away by what he had witnessed in the kitchen.

The Mighty Spud will be leading the charge at the upcoming annual Northern Ireland Potato Festival which takes place in Bushmills next Saturday, October 7.

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