(Jan. 31) The United States Potato Board, Denver, is calling upon chefs to whip up new recipe ideas using regional cuisine.

The board’s 50 States of Potato Recipe Contest, coinciding with the United Nations’ designation of 2008 as the International Year of the Potato, will focus on local flavors.

“We want to get people thinking of new healthful potato offerings for their menus,” said Linda McCashion, the board’s vice president of public relations. “That’s the big goal.”

Open to professional chefs, contest entrants will showcase potato recipes using their state’s unique flavors and ingredients. The USPB anticipates a few hundred entries, McCashion said.

The contest opened Jan. 1 and will run through May 31.

Winners will be selected based on their use of regional ingredients and flair, taste, originality and presentation. Judging takes place in an initial paper round, followed by a tasting round. Ketchum West Food Services, San Francisco, will prepare the recipes with judging by Denver chefs.

The grand prize winner will be awarded a trip to the 2008 Worlds of Flavor Conference at the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone, St. Helena, Calif. First prize is $500 and second prize is $250.

Additionally, one winner from each state will have their recipe featured on the USPB website.