Chef Mark Zeitouni of The Standard Spa and Hotel, Miami Beach, Fla., won first place in the Idaho Potato Commission's (IPC) Side Dish Challenge at the fourth annual South Beach Wine and Food Festival’s Burger Bash, hosted by celebrity chef Rachael Ray.

(l to r) Rachael Ray; Art Ginsberg, aka "Mr. Food;" chef Mark Zeitouni; and Frank Muir, president and CEO of the IPC

Zeitouni's Homemade Tater Tots, a simple interpretation of the beloved childhood favorite, won him first place and a $5,000 donation made on his behalf by the IPC to Florida International University. The dishes were judged on a five-point scale based on: use of product, originality, presentation and flavor.

Photo courtesy of Marcelo Ibanez

Homemade Tater Tots
Mark Zeitouni, chef, The Standard Spa and Hotel, Miami Beach;
wine pairing by Marlene Rossman

Chef's note: Be sure to complete the recipe from start to finish without letting the potatoes get cold. It is the warm starch from the barely cooked potatoes that holds the tater tots together.

4 servings

2 large Idaho russet potatoes, washed thoroughly
2 shallots, peeled
6 parsley sprigs, picked and roughly chopped
4 scallions, green part only, chopped
Pinch ground white pepper
Pinch ground sea salt
Vegetable oil for frying

Method (1) Preheat oven to 350°F. Place potatoes on baking pan, and cook for 20 minutes or until potatoes barely give when squeezed. Remove from oven, and set baking pan on top of oven to keep warm for another 20 minutes. (This will allow the center of the potatoes to barely cook so they will not turn brown after shredding. The goal is to have the potatoes barely cooked but not to the point that they turn to mashed potatoes when grated.) (2) Peel potato skin back using a butter knife or similar knife. Try not to remove any of the flesh underneath the skin, as it will help bind the tater tots. (3) Using either a shredder attachment on a food processor or a hand grater, shred potatoes into a bowl. Then press shallots through shredder attachment or dice finely if doing by hand. (4) Add shallots, parsley, scallions, pepper and salt to bowl; mix thoroughly. The mixture should still be warm and sticky to the touch. At this point, the potatoes can either be pressed into a cookie sheet to 1" thickness or hand formed into balls of 1" thickness. Wet your hands or rolling pin so the starch will not stick. Once formed, allow to cool. (5) Press onto cookie sheet and cut into 1"-by-1" squares. (6) Heat deep fryer or sauté pan with half inch of vegetable oil to medium high heat, and carefully place tater tots in oil. Turn potatoes so all sides are cooked evenly to golden brown. Season lightly with a pinch of sea salt, and serve.

Wine pairing: Navarro Vineyards Chardonnay 2007 (California)
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The deadline to submit an application for the U.S. nationals competition is March 31. For more information, visit