Always in search of perfection, students at the Edge Hotel School have identified what they believe to be the exact formula for the perfect roast potato. Working with mathematics students from the Samuel Whitbread Academy, they have devised a method of cutting a potato that increases its surface area by 65 percent. This produces a roast potato that consumer tests show improves its taste, crunch and visual appeal.
The students took Heston Blumenthal’s 7 step method for producing the perfect roast potato and added another step or modification. According to Heston’s book ‘In Search of Perfection: Reinventing Kitchen Classics’, you should ‘Cut the potatoes into quarters (the quartering is important because it’s the edges that get nice and crunchy, that’s why reasonably large potatoes are needed for this recipe)’. This is shown in the illustration of the traditional method.
The new ‘Edge Cut’ slices the potato at a 30¡ angle as shown in the Edge method illustration. This method has not only been proven mathematically by the student researchers but also in the results of consumer and professional chefs research that indicated a preference for potatoes cut using the new method. Not only does this cut improve the surface area but it also creates longer edges, which as Heston Blumenthal says, ‘is important because it’s the edges that get nice and crunchy’.
This significant finding has had reverberations worldwide. It has been reported in all of the mainstream media in the UK, appeared on two television channels, and has now been picked up with media reports in the United States, Greece, Italy, Indonesia and New Zealand. One UK newspaper, The Sun, did a comparative test following the roast potato recipes of well-known television chefs, Jamie Oliver and Nigella Lawson as well as Heston Blumenthal. The verdict was ‘A sensation. Super crispy, fluffy and fairly easy to prepare.’
Adrian Martin, Vice Principal of the hotel school, in commenting on the research and the findings said ‘on all measures the new cut potato scores higher’. It is reported that several chefs across the UK have already started emulating the ‘Edge Hotel School Method’.
The students, in their YouTube video, have challenged Heston Blumenthal to modify his recipes to incorporate their new Edge Cut and offered to carry out further research on any other aspects of his work. This is an example of how students are encouraged to think laterally and to challenge and test convention.
This idea may in time revolutionise the way people roast potatoes, but more widely it demonstrates the philosophy that underpins the Edge Hotel School, where students can make and do make a very significant contribution to the future of the industry.