I’ve been a foodie ALL my life. I don’t mean “weekend foodie”, some “kinda-wanna-be-foodie”, but a TRUE, Through and Through foodie since I watched my first episode of the Galloping Gourmet with Graham Kerr at the age of 5 with my Mom. She would have her eyes fixed intently on Graham as he finished preparing a delicious dish in front of a live studio audience (90% women as I recall) and as he would “gallop” up into the seats and take an unsuspecting hand of a woman to join him at the table to eat whatever he had prepared for that show. I remember hearing “Ahhhhhhh…” from Mom. Graham was so elegant with his English accent and bravado. After sitting the woman at the table, with a smile as big as the tv set on her face, he would grab the bottle of wine and pour both a glass while they sat and ate his delicious creation while everyone looked on around them. Graham had a glass in his hand or close by taking a sip here and there throughout each show. I loved his style of creativity and the way he had so much fun preparing, tossing ingredients and continually telling stories as he cooked.
Fast forward 49 years later and at the soon-to-be age of 54, I give Graham so much of the credit for my style, storytelling and, of course, the taste of a nice glass of wine while cooking. I have had hundreds of dinner parties over the years recreating recipes from cookbooks, the internet, magazines, food shows as well as inspiration I had gotten traveling internationally over the last 15 years for business. Something changed though and turned my world upside down in July of 2013. I was in southern Brazil on business at a clients home for dinner. His wife had it catered by two chefs that brought in twelve gas table top burners, pans, ingredients and a whole lot of shredded potatoes. I watched as they fried a whole lot of shredded potatoes and then cover the center of them with different fillings from meats, cheeses and vegetables and then covering all of that with another layer of shredded potatoes. Once complete, a quick flip of the pan and joila! Crispy, fried deliciousness bursting with flavors! They were plated and served in quarters with a sauce. I remember that first bite even today. It was amazing! Crispy potatoes with fillings paired beautifully. My palate was suspended in a euphoric state and when I looked up, 3 more flavors were right behind that one. I don’t remember how much I ate but I received my fill and more tasting every single one. I remember getting up the next morning craving them and knew I wanted to experience that again very soon.
I returned to Portland and set out to find, what I later found out was a Swiss Rösti (Roosh – ti), after some time on my laptop searching. I learned that it originated in the Canton of Bërn, Switzerland in the early 1800’s as a peasant food. Farmers wives would shred potatoes in the early morning, fry them, fill them with leftovers from supper the night before and then cover them with a layer of shredded potatoes and fried. This would sustain the men in the fields until supper that night.
My search continued to attempt to find them locally but came up with nothing. I searched nationally and struck out again. This really stumped me. I had just experienced what could possibly be the best thing I have ever tasted in a place so random and removed from where it actually originated and I couldn’t find them here! That’s when it hit me! So I got to work….
I went to my kitchen and began testing & tasting…testing & tasting…testing & tasting….Then it hit me again. Fly these guys up here and get to work! I was able to secure visa’s for both of them that prepared them so incredibly in Brazil and in no time, they were in my kitchen making them with me. We worked on many different recipes using their style as well as our local flavors. They were impressed with how we sourced so many different flavors to put inside. The potato turned out to be a big part of it as well. Out of over 100 varieties we tried, only 1 ended up being the perfect potato that I could put our name on. It was perfect! When the chef’s left Portland, we were both excited because I was able to recreate them here and enjoy flavors I had experienced there and they took back recipes they would have never thought to try back home.
The last 4 1/2 years have been an experience of a lifetime. Creating dishes and sharing with friends and Family has been my lifelong passion and to be launching the Swiss Rösti here in the U.S. with such an incredible history behind it, well, it just doesn’t get any better than this. We are all health conscious and the Rösti checks all the boxes from my daughter, living with us as she applies to dental school, who is vegan and lactose intolerant to our friends who are gluten intolerant. This journey also ties in to our passion to give back here in our community. The Swiss Rösti has opened the door to get involved in feeding the homeless and really being a part of our community. Our 5 children have and continue to learn that giving back is simply what you do and the more you give, the more you receive. They love getting involved with Lory and I. Last Christmas, my future Son In Law and all of our children got in the kitchen as we prepared hot meals for 100 people living on the streets here. We ventured out at dark with gallons of hot cocoa and coffee, meals and blankets and walked until they were all gone. The look on those peoples faces was of complete gratitude and oneness. A feeling that we all share this planet and whatever we can do to give someone a “hand up” is what we will do! We just recently partnered with the Oregon Food Bank to feed 1000 people per month once we release the Rösti at the Fancy Food Show in San Francisco in January. We have also committed to them that 5% of profits will go directly to them as well. The bible states that “first fruits” are to be given and we are going to do just that.
We are so honored and fortunate to have met Sarah Masoni, director at the Oregon State University Food Innovation Center here in Portland. She and the incredible team there have developed products that food entrepreneurs like myself have created and brought them to market nationally with huge success. They have taken on the Swiss Rösti and will complete final development / packaging in December and we will then release it in January 2019. The Swiss Rösti is gluten free and will be released as a snack / appetizer that can be dipped in my own nostalgic fry sauce. Moms will love them for after school snacks and everyone will love them during the big game or any time you hear your kids say, “I Want A Rösti!™”. Just remember to dip.bite. repeat™.