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Big Dish of Au Gratin Potatoes Earmarked for Record

Big Dish of Au Gratin Potatoes Earmarked for Record

Washington spud farmers cook up world-record dish of au gratin potatoes.

Washington potato farmers, business owners, mechanics, welders, engineers, students, the military and even a few truckers got involved in cooking up the world's biggest batch of au gratin potatoes last month.

Seeking to break all records and get into the Guinness World Record book, their 15,000-pound au gratin dish nearly doubled the previous record of 8,400 pounds set in Europe last year.

Designed to bring city folk and the farmer together in a Mount Vernon Downtown Association event known as Spirit of the Spud, the cooking effort was part of a year-long series of promotions to celebrate potatoes.\

For the potato grower, the event was a "wonderful way to celebrate local agriculture," says the Washington State Potato Commission.

"It's really a cool concept – taking local food and using it to set a world record," says WSPC Chairman Darrin Morrison. "People from all over the world will learn more about Skagit Valley's rich diversity of agriculture."

Fifth-generation potato grower Konnie McCutchin of Knutzen Farms agrees: "It's an absolutely incredible way to celebrate out farms. I don't think many people realize how many crops are grown here in the valley."

While the heat was up for the big dish heated by 40 crab cookers underneath, putting out some 4 million btus an hour, and the steam off the potatoes was a challenge in the hot weather, participants say the event was an entertaining adventure.

The Skagit County Dairy Women and Darigold were among those helping pay for the 200 gallons of cream and 400 pounds of cheese needed as ingredients. Added to 15,000 pounds of potatoes donated by local growers, the dish was flavored by 100 pounds of onions, 50 pounds of garlic, seven pounds of salt and 2.5 pounds of pepper – a recipe for those who intend to duplicate the dish in their back yard this autumn!

"I've never done anything like this before," says retired chef Stuarto Glasser, who headed up the cooking effort. "It was kind of like rowing a huge boat," he describes the effort of stirring the potato pan to a flavorful culmination.'

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