Meredith Test Kitchen & The Ultimate Potato Recipe Contest

I hope you guys are enjoying my posts about my trip to judge The Ultimate Potato Recipe Contest with Better Homes & Gardens in partnership with the U.S. Potato Board. It was such a cool experience!

Before the judging started, we got a quick tour of the Test Kitchen where all of the food magic happens at Meredith.

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The Meredith Test Kitchen has been in continuous operation since 1928 and today contains 10 galley kitchens, two dining room-style tasting rooms, and an outdoor grilling area. The Test Kitchen team includes 6 culinary specialists, 2 nutritional specialists, a purchasing specialist, 3 housekeepers, and an officer manager.

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Services provided by the Test Kitchen:

  • Developing recipes
  • Testing recipes
  • Editing recipes
  • Conducting nutritional analysis
  • Creating dietary exchanges
  • Judging recipe contests
  • Planning meals to include special diets
  • Maintaining a terminology database
  • Answering consumer phone calls and letters
  • Teaching cooking classes

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A typical year in the life of the Test Kitchen:

  • More than 5,900 recipes tested
  • $120,000 spent on groceries
  • 6,000 cups of flour
  • 4,000 cups of sugar
  • 400 dozen eggs
  • 3,2000 cups of milk
  • 600 pounds of butter
  • 800 onions
  • 800 teaspoons of salt

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After the tour, we headed into a room where we tasted and judged 8 finalist recipes. Check out my “judging station”!

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The Ultimate Potato Recipe Contest received 334 entries and about 1/3 of the entrants did not specify the type of potatoes in their recipes. When they did, here’s a breakdown of what kind of potato they used:

  • Russet: 66
  • Red: 52
  • Golden: 42
  • Baby or New: 18
  • Purple or Blue: 11
  • Fingerling: 7
  • Frozen: 10
  • Potato Chips: 1

As far as the type of recipe submitted, side dishes were most popular, but there were also lots of main dishes and breakfasts. There were 45 potato salads, 25 appetizers, 22 soups, 10 desserts, 9 pizzas, 7 potato candies, and 6 bread/roll recipes. Scalloped potatoes were also quite popular and 38 recipes included mashed potatoes.

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Once we heard an overview of the recipes, it was time to taste them! There were 5 judges for the contest: Meredith from the U.S. Potato Board, Kris from Fleishman-Hillard, two Foods Editors from Better Homes & Gardens, and me. The recipes were judged on visual appeal, taste, creativity, and interpretation of contest theme.

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The winner of The Ultimate Potato Recipe Contest will be announced in the March issue of Better Homes & Gardens, so I’m not allowed to give specific details about any of the recipes, but I can tell you all 8 finalists were delicious and very creative, and we picked a fantastic recipe as the winner. I’ll be sure to share all of the recipes on CNC once the March issue of Better Homes & Gardens hits stands.

Here are photos of the 8 finalists:

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I only planned to eat a bite or two of each entry, but some of them were so delicious, I ended up eating a lot more!

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I was stuffed by the end, but it was totally worth it. Judging recipes for a national contest was such a neat opportunity and, obviously, potatoes are delicious to eat. Thank you, U.S. Potato Board and Better Homes & Gardens, for inviting me to participate!

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Question of the Day

If you had the chance to judge a recipe contest, what type of recipes would you want to taste?

Judging potato recipes was a lot of fun, but cake recipes would be my ultimate pick!

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