Somebody out to steal Pierre Koffmann’s crown, then?
They are indeed. James Martin has put his tanks on the Frenchman’s lawn with a frozen potato range designed for professional use. Created in partnership with Albert Bartlett, the products are available through Nationwide Produce.
What’s on offer?
The Albert Bartlett Inspired by James Martin range comprises Luxury Mashed Potato, Classic Mashed Potato, Triple Cooked Chunky Chips, Classic Fries and Sweet Potato Fries. The products are designed to help chefs ‘reduce prep time and reduce waste while delivering a product they can be proud to serve’.
How similar are these products to Koffmann’s range?
Very. Koffmann’s pre-prepared potato range includes lots of different types of frites and mash potatoes. The chef is also poised to launch a selection of non-frozen pre-prepared potato products that will include roast potatoes and chips. It’s fair to say that Martin has a fair bit of catching up to do - Koffmann’s face is now used to shift all manner of fresh fruit and vegetables - including asparagus, avocados and strawberries - and the septuagenarian chef will soon strike out into crisps, condiments – including tomato ketchup - and stocks.
Didn’t Martin do some work for SpudULike not so long ago?
He’s still involved. In fact, as of 2021 the jacket potato purveyor goes by SpudULike by James Martin. The brand was acquired by Albert Bartlett a few years before, you see. Things don’t appear to be going too well, though. When Martin became involved with SpudULike it had 10 locations, but according to its website it now has just four.
Ouch. Are any other chefs helping companies shift their potatoes?
Yep. Michel Roux Jr has been an ambassador for Albert Bartlett for over a decade - he even walked away from presenting MasterChef: The Professionals after his endorsement of them broke BBC rules - but helps the company market its potatoes to consumers rather than the trade. More recently, Marco Pierre White has got in on the act. The chef now works with The Food Heroes - the same company that is behind Koffmann’s range - to put his name to all manner of products including Yorkshire peas, Italian spinach, tater tots and ketchup.
Do proper chefs really use this stuff?
It might have a bit of a bad rep, but there are certain products, such a peas, that many kitchens are happy to pluck from the deep freeze. These also include chips, although whether frozen mashed potato is as popular is moot. Albert Bartlett says its luxury mash has the taste and texture of a high-end restaurant’s, although it’s unlikely that newly-opened L’Atelier Robuchon London will switch it out for its famous mash (or purée de pomme de terre to give it its posher French name), which is regarded as the best mashed potatoes in the world thanks to the generous 2:1 potato to butter ratio.
You won’t catch Ramsay down the frozen aisle then…
Funny you should say that. Despite decades of railing against frozen products Ramsay has just launched a frozen food range into US retail giant Walmart that includes chicken pot pie, lasagna, shepherd’s pie, and mac and cheese. Seems there’s money to be made for a chef in the frozen food game.