(Oct. 29) EAGLE, Idaho — To hear Don Odiorne tell it, the Tater Tot just might represent the resurgence of the much maligned spud that has fallen out of favor repeatedly with every new dietary fad.

While the fads have come and gone, the lowly potato marches on to its on tune and its Odiorne’s job to lead the band that the foodservice industry follows.

As vice president of foodservice for the Idaho Potato Commission for 18 years, he and his crew of hand-picked chefs continue to come up with unique ways to promote the potato’s many uses and “reinventions,” as he likes to call them.

“What we did this year that was kind of unique was to bring in three chefs and have them work with us creating a unique series of breakfast stations where we served everything from reinvented Tater Tots to donuts made with potato-flour potato pancakes to upscale hash,” he said.

He said the chefs came up with three reinvented Tater Tots made from fresh potatoes rather than frozen — one with lemon, pepper and parmesan cheese; another had truffle oil with mushroom flavoring; the third was stuffed with sausage.

“What we’re trying to do with a lot of our efforts is to look at something that’s recognizable by all of America and but a twist on it to see if we can expand the usage of it,(to emphasize) that they’re made of fresh rather than frozen and (show) they can be served any time of the day,” he said.

He said Andy Husband, a Boston chef, came up with a lobster-filled Tater Tot, making it a perfect side dish for fish.

“We’re working with chefs who use the product and look at different ways to position it and make it sell better,” he said.

Odiorne said the various Tater Tot reinventions rather than traditional hash browns and roasted potatoes were presented during a breakfast buffet at the annual grower-shipper meeting in Sun Valley.

“I told them if we want to grow the business we need to show new and different ways to prepare them,” he said. “One of the comments from one of the shippers was ‘if this doesn’t prove the Atkins diet is dead I don’t know what does.’”