From crisps to chips— these addictive spuds go gourmet.
Called “Crisps” By The British And “Patatines” In Italy—Never Mind How You Call Them— Chips Are Notorious. From sweet potato chips in paradise, to truffle crisps in Paris, it’s time we see the finer side of the silver-lined bag attracting us to these salty-savory flakes from heaven.
Potato chips are not an innate association with luxury, but elite social circles and gastronomes were involved in their initial ascent. And America’s favorite snack food can certainly stand up to premium pairings, such as caviar, smoked salmon, and champagne.
The Sunday football staple started in New England—not from gastronomic genius, but a moxie move concerning one chef ’s bold take on the French-fried potato.
The story goes that: In the summer of 1853, in the elegant Moon Lake Lodge restaurant of Saratoga Springs, New York, chef George Crum specialized in thick, French-fried potato “chips.” Th is style was favored by Thomas Jeﬀerson, America’s ambassador to France, who brought these thick-cut pommes de terre (“apples of the earth,” in French) back to the states in the 1700s.
One diner found Crum’s French fries too thick, and rejected his trimmed-down reat-tempt. So, chef Crum sliced the potatoes uber-thin in spite, so that they could not be eaten with a fork. Th e diner adored them, and the smash-hit potato chip was born.
Add champagne, oysters and caviar, and chips fit in at the finest tables, and some even claim them to be an aphrodisiac. (We feel this may be a stretch.). Top chips with foie gras or slivers of white or black truffles, and the humble potato can compete with haute gastronomy. (Gustatory gluttons, you’re welcome.)
Depending on where you’re cooking, potato varieties coveted for their gastronomic properties can be as diﬃcult to come by as Alba, Italy’s white truffle.
Just ask Paris chef Justin Kent, who has his own take on the potato chip after training under Alain Passard at his three-star institution, L’Arpége.
“I like the textural element of chips to dishes. I happen to love purple potato chips, and find them beautiful, but they can sometimes be hard to get …” shares Kent, a French-American who enjoyed his fair share of potato chips growing up on the mainland.
For local interpretations, Maui’s original potato chip, “The Original Maui Kitch’n Cook’d Potato Chips,” clocks in at four-or-five-inches in length, making them longer and thicker than atypical styles.
Extremely crunchy and whisky in color, the recipe calls for russet potatoes that are not peeled before being deep fried, so that distinct potato taste remains. Inside? Potatoes, cotton seed oil, salt and whole lot of aloha. You’ll find them on Maui, O‘ahu and Kaua‘i.
Other Island renditions include Maui Style Potato Chips, infused with caramelized Maui onions and kettle-style Hawaiian Potato Chips.
For another local spin on the chip, Hawaii Island Gourmet Products, established in 1936 in Hilo by Raymond Atebara, claims to be home to Hawai‘i’s first chip.
The Atebara signature? Scrumptious sweet potato crisps fashioned with the Islands’ beloved purple and yellow potatoes. Potatoes were rationed, and were, thus, a luxury food, during the 1940s. The Atebara family started substituting taro for the potato, sprouting what would become Atebara Potato Chip Company, which continues to create “Local Kine” chips in ginger, garlic and furikake, flavors.
On O‘ahu, Moana Surfrider’s Vintage 1901’s small bites include house potato crisps, garnished with gorgonzola-cream dipping sauce. The wine bar’s charcuterie chips are accented with crisp prosciutto and salami; the menu also touts Wagyu beef tartar “nachos” with Okinawan potato chips.
Other fine-dining options on O‘ahu? Arancino for their “Terrina di Fegato d’Oca”: cognac-and-brandy-marinated foie gras with Okinawan potato chips; Grondin in Chinatown’s house chips with Hawai‘i prawn ceviche; just to name a few.
Bevy in Kaka‘ako boasts a “bag of chips” fit for pau hana. Bevy owner Christian Self says the name plays oﬀ the expression: “all that and a bag of chips.” They don’t come in a bag, but the recipe and pairings certainly are impressive. “It’s thin-sliced russet potato, golden fried, and tossed in salt, pepper and pecorino-romano cheese. They go really well with our Tequila Mockingbird, with Reposado tequila, ancho chili, turmeric and papaya, or a nice cold beer, like Clown Shoes Mango Kolsch.”
Beyond the Islands, it is not common that your coupe of bubbly be accompanied by potato chips in European bistros. You can dress up your chips yourself with gourmet sea salt, rosemary, oregano, thyme, honey, wasabi, cacao, or other herbs and spices. But if you aren’t keen on frying your own potatoes and shaving Alba white truffles on top, you can purchase gourmet packaged interpretations.
Paris’ Artisan de la Truﬀe holds its claim in luscious, black-truffle-mushroom-infused munchies. In Dayton, Ohio, the Esther Price chocolate candy store’s specialty is chocolate-covered potato chips, and the balance of savory, salty, and sweet is seductive.
Spain’s Torres Authentica, a reference for chip-loving foodies, handcrafts gourmet snack chips in uncommon flavors using traditional methods and potatoes from local farmers. Their portfolio includes summer black truffles—a sweet-and-earthy combo to stimulate the senses.
For something classic, the Artesanal crisps are a 1969 recipe. For purists, try extra-virgin Olive Oil, and for gourmands, snack on a bag of Sparkling Wine.
Wine pairings are also recommended for these luxury crunchies. Earth meets sea in potato chips topped or infused with caviar: best paired with champagne, light white wine or cava. For Iberian ham notes, choose a red wine. You know those poppy, light-andfruity flavors in champagne? Stick with something simple, or the Torres’ Selecta Sparkling Wine. (Also pairs well with chocolate and roses for Valentine’s Day.)
For chips, Steve Gellot, Four Seasons George V’s sommelier apprentice, recommended white wine with structure, such as chardonnay from Burgundy, France—such as a fully matured Puligny-Montrachet’s earthy, forest flavors of truffle and mushroom. They also mix with older Chenin Blancs or zippy Vouvray from the Loire Valley.
Fatty foods like chips tend to marry well with the sharp acidity in white sparkling wines. In general, stick with a dry Brut rather than a Ros? or Demi-Sec, but Gellot insists that “you should amuse yourself as you’d like.” Pick the right wine, and fried potatoes take on new personalities.
Nevertheless, chips are underestimated. Frying a potato can seem simple, but there is much more work that goes into the contouring of a potato chip. Making a good chip takes practice. You can add your own garnishes—fromage blanc, chives, caviar … and elevate your soirée’s chip dish.
Not matter how thick you slice it, the phrase “all that and a bag of chips” didn’t come into being for nothing.