Top Chip

Over 1.2 billion pounds of potato chips are consumed each year in the US. Maybe that's why National Chip Day will be celebrated on March 14, 2012.  

With all the places I have traveled to around the globe there's a spud-of-a-common thread to all those destinations. You could say my common thread is the chip, or crisp, if you are in the UK and parts of the EU. I’ve de-bagged a couple in Greece, flavored with rosemary, very tasty. An interesting twist was the peri-peri version I noshed on in the outback of South Africa. And of course have nibbled on a few, purely for research in the US. Ahem. Sorry, those pre-formed spuds in a can just don't make the cut.

So what makes this the unique link to my travels? The seasoning usually becomes very localized, like ketchup or pickle flavored - a favorite with my friends up in Canada. Mostly, I like them plain-n-simple like the way they were origially made.

The original potato chip recipe was created in Saratoga Springs by another Chef George; George Crum and they were called "Saratoga Chips". It’s said Chef George came up with this crispy thin chip when soggy potatoes kept being returned to the kitchen from a Mr. Vanderbilt. The chip was such a hit they made it on the menu - full time. See sometimes good stuff can come from a flop!

In 1920, Frank Smith was one of the first to season a slice. Smith's crisps were originally packaged with a twist of salt in grease proof paper bags - and sold in London. Smith’s today is known as Walker’s Crisps. Other than salt, the potato chip remained unseasoned until an innovation by Joe "Spud" Murphy, the owner of an Irish crisp company called Tayto, developed a way in the 1950’s to produce the world's first seasoned crisps. Flavors; Cheese & Onion and Salt & Vinegar.

You may be asking, George I thought you only ate healthy? Yes I do, but part of a healthy eating regimen is moderation, not sacrifice. I enjoy a few chips with my healthy hummus dip. I also don't suggest parking in front of the TV with a 6 1/2 gallon can Grandma Utz’s Chips. 

My three 'Top Chip' picks:

- Utz has me sold for chips readily available throughout the US. 

- Recently, I came across a bag of Tiger Spuds—grown on the East End of Long Island, from Sagaponack's Foster Farm. Tiger Spuds have an earthier fresh potato flavor, and probably grown on the most expensive farm fertile real estate on the planet!

- So what’s my top travelled chip? Without a doubt the original "Cheese and Onion" made by Tayto. My crew introduced me to Taytos when filming in Ireland. It's time to go back, I finished my last bag. 

Dip Your Chip: 

George's Hummus 

Makes four servings | Recipe by Chef George Hirsch 

Serve as a dip or spread. Either way, it's a great healthy way to snack!

1 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained
3 cloves Caramelized Garlic (get this recipe)
1 Tablespoon tahini paste (optional)
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon hot sauce
juice of 1/2 a lemon
3 Tablespoons plain lowfat yogurt

Puree chickpeas in a food processor. Add garlic, tahini, cumin, hot sauce, lemon, and yogurt. Mix all ingredients well. Allow to set for 30 minutes prior to serving.