August 15, 2014

Zack & Jack's $52,000 Potato Salad Party

Last week, Zack "Danger" Brown learned a few lessons regarding potato salad making from the executive chef of Jack Astor's, Adrian Whitfield, such as that it should be sweetened with maple syrup...who knew?

Adrian Whitfield from Jack Astor's and Zack "Danger" Brown Potato Salad Guy
Adrian Whitfield and Zack "Danger" Brown 

After raising over $55,000 on Kickstarter to make potato saladDanger, originally from Columbus, Ohio, was flown out to Toronto by Jack Astor's for their Zack & Jack's $52,000 Potato Salad Party hosted at the Jack Astor's in the St. Lawrence Market area. Yes - I'm sure you've heard about Danger on social media and mainstream news. This was a joke between friends that escalated into something pretty spectacular! It started out with Danger hoping to raise $10-$60 between friends to make potato salad, and whatever extra money there was would have went towards beer and pizza for their get-together. Well, as I said - it escalated into SO much more! 

Jack Astor's in the St. Lawrence Market area
Jack Astor's in the St. Lawrence Market area
Zack & Jack's $52,000 Potato Salad Party
Zack & Jack's $52,000 Potato Salad Party

Once I heard that Jack Astor's would be hosting a Zack & Jack's $52,000 Potato Salad Party, I knew I had to go! I had to see what all this hype was about! Lucky for me, my mother was in town so I dragged her along for some fun! Jack Astor's set up the entire second floor of the St. Lawrence Market location for the party. They had a Corona station, a margarita station and...best of all...a SANGRIA station! If you know me, you know I love me some wine and sangria, so we made friends with the bartender and camped out close by! There were also servers going around with plates of yummy appetizers to hold us over until the big reveal

Sangria Station at Zack & Jack's $52,000 Potato Salad Party
Sangria Station at Zack & Jack's $52,000 Potato Salad Party
Jack Astor's Sangria at Zack & Jack's $52,000 Potato Salad Party
Sangria at Zack & Jack's $52,000 Potato Salad Party

After speaking with Danger personally, I can see why this joke has snowballed into something else. He is charismatic and hilarious which makes for a perfect fit with the Jack Astor's brand. Danger and I were speaking one on one, and I was telling him about the RAKE movement started by Ricky Smith (@rickonia) who is from Cleveland, Ohio. If you don't know about the RAKE Movement, you better check it out! Random Acts of Kindness Everywhere. So, after we had been speaking for a little while, Danger then decided to tell me he was actually mic'd up and everything was being recorded by news crews and PR teams! I immediately got camera shy! Yes, I take a MILLION selfies on Instagram, but I'm actually really shy! LOL 
Zack "Danger" Brown being interviewed  at Zack & Jack's $52,000 Potato Salad Party
Zack "Danger" Brown being interviewed
at 
Zack & Jack's $52,000 Potato Salad Party 

The crowd erupted in cheers as Danger, Adrian and a slew of servers brought out trays upon trays of the potato salad. They circulated around the crowd ensuring everyone got a taste (or 2!) of the potato salad. Made with Yukon Gold potatoes (obviously), sweetened with maple syrup and apple cider vinegar and mixed with double smoked bacon - I'm not too sure what there is NOT to like about this potato salad! Were you not able to make it Zack & Jack's $52,000 Potato Salad PartyNot to worry, Jack Astor's and Danger have shared their potato salad recipe!  

Zack & Jack's $52,000 Potato Salad Party
Zack & Jack's $52,000 Potato Salad Party 

Salad: 
2 lb (900 g) mini Yukon Gold potatoes, scrubbed 
red bell pepper, seeded, halved 
1 tbsp (15 mL) olive oil 
Sea salt + freshly ground black pepper 
8-oz (225-g) piece double-smoked bacon, cut in matchsticks 
1 medium yellow, red or sweet onion, halved, thinly sliced crosswise 
1 tbsp (15 mL) canola oil 
1/4 cup (60 mL) finely chopped curly parsley, or more to taste 
Dressing: 
1/2 cup (125 mL) mayonnaise 
2 tbsp (30 mL) each: reserved bacon fat, Dijon mustard, pure maple syrup, apple cider vinegar, sweetened condensed milk (optional) 
For salad, put potatoes in medium saucepan of salted water. Bring to boil over high heat. Boil under just cooked through, about 15 minutes. Drain; place potatoes in ice bath to cool. Drain; cut potatoes in halves or quarters depending on size. (You want 1/2-inch to 3/4-inch/1- to 2-cm pieces.) 
Meanwhile, toss red pepper with olive oil, salt and pepper. Place on baking sheet. 
Roast in preheated 400F (200C) oven until skins begin to blacken, about 30 minutes. When cool enough to handle, discard blackened skins. Cut flesh into matchsticks. 
Spread bacon on same baking sheet. Bake in preheated 400F (200C) oven until fat is rendered and bacon is slightly crisp, about 30 minutes. Remove bacon to bowl. Reserve 2 tbsp (30 mL) rendered fat for dressing. 
In medium skillet, heat canola oil over medium-low. Add onions. Cook, stirring, 12 minutes to soften and lightly brown. 
In large mixing bowl, combine potatoes, red peppers, bacon, onions and parsley. Toss well. 
For dressing, in medium bowl, whisk mayo, reserved bacon fat, mustard, maple syrup, vinegar and condensed milk if using until smooth. (Makes about 1 cup/250 mL.) 
Add 1/2 cup (125 mL) dressing to potato mixture. Toss well. If desired, add more dressing as needed. Taste; season with salt and pepper. Toss again. 
Serve immediately or refrigerate until chilled. 
Makes 6 side servings.


What's Next? 


Not only has this Kickstarter campaign stirred up a commotion on social media - it has developed into something even bigger as Danger will be hosting PotatoStock, a benefit concert and festival, in Columbus on September 27th. And if you loved the potato salad he and Adrian Whitfield created at Jack Astor's, you're in luck - it will be served at PotatoStock! After the commitments Danger has made through his Kickstarter campaign - all extra money will be donated to a local group in ColumbusOhio that fights hunger and homelessness 

You can learn more about PotatoStock HERE