A Mt Eden chef has turned the humble potato into an awardwinning dish.
Michael Van de Elzen, owner and chef of Molten restaurant, won the national Great Potato Challenge at the Manukau Institute of Technology.
His potato boulangere took the top prize at the event, held to mark the United Nations International Year of the Potato.
“It’s a very traditional dish that has been on our menu for about the past eight weeks. It’s hugely popular.”
He says the boulangere is similar to a potato gratin, but uses chicken stock instead of cream.
“It’s an easy dish to look at, but there can be a little bit of time involved.”
Once cooked, it is left overnight before being sliced into bite sized pieces and roasted again.
He says winning the competition was a great honour.
With many varieties of potato available, he encourages people to try different kinds.
He often cooks with agria potatoes which are versatile, but the Jersey Benny variety is a personal favourite.
The competition was judged by chefs Andy Gibbs and Ross Hannah, Dish magazine editorial director Catherine Bell, and Johann Wohlmuther, head of catering and hospitality at the institute.
Mr Gibbs says the winning entry used the flavour of the potato to emphasise the dish.
Other finalists were Michael Sullivan and Fraser McConnel of Christchurch and Eugene Sokolovski from The Abbey in Greenlane.
Mr Van de Elzen will attend the International Year of the Potato gala dinner at SkyCity on Friday where his dish will feature on the menu.
Prize potatoes: Michael Van de Elzen with his potato dish judged best in the country.