Just when I get round to reviewing a bag of Albert Bartlett potatoes due to their endorsement by Michel Roux Jr, a Guardian headline appears in my twitter feed that says “Michel Roux Jr leaving BBC and MasterChef in row over potato“. Who would have thought it! There has been some knotty wrangling going on to do with “commercial interests” and apparently the fact that Michel endorses Albert Bartlett Potatoes causes some issues for the BBC. The Guardian piece highlights some of the anomalies in that e.g James Martin and cookware, there’s also Raymond Blanc and muesli, pans and puddings so it all seems a bit odd. It’s a bit sad, as being a fan of Masterchef Professionals I think Michel will be missed and the bookies are already taking odds on his replacement; it’s 25/1 to one on Tom Aikens, Sat Bains, Tom Kerridge and Mark Sargeant so get your bets in early and you could be quids in.
I find it strange that everything has fallen apart over the potatoes as the endorsement is fairly low key. There were a couple of TV ads over Christmas and Michel does have a recipe on the back of the bag (as does Andrew Fairlie) but his face isn’t plastered all over the front and his name isn’t prominently featured on the packaging. You could quite easily buy a bag in blissful ignorance that Michel played any part at all in the marketing – and there a few endorsements where that is true. Even when Albert Bartlett take out a full page ad in Observer Food Monthly it is in the form of a semi editorial piece that mentions Michel and the picture of him outside Le Gavroche is more an action shot than it is a gurning, grinning celeb who wants to flog you spuds. It could of course be a clever trick to make you think they aren’t giving the hard sell, meanwhile they’re secretly controlling your mind and that’s how I came to buy a bag in the first place.
All that being said this is an endorsement of the first order – there is no pretence that Michel has had anything to do with the development of the product, it is an endorsement simply based on the fact that Michel likes the product; the logic being if it’s good enough for Michel it’s good enough for us. I guess it was time to try them.
There is an old Irish saying “A potato is a potato is a potato.*” which means one potato is as good as another. There is another saying that goes “A man with a potato is a rich man indeed.*” and a third that says “Worry not what potato you have, worry only if you do not have a potato.*”. All these sayings basically mean don’t be precious about your tubers because nobody can really tell the difference – a school of thought I fell into until Albert Bartlett came along as these spuds really are brilliant.
I tasted them boiled, roasted and also mashed and in each of those forms they were the finest example I ever tried – a versatile spud indeed. The boiled potato was full of flavour and had a delicious almost creamy texture. The roast version was golden and crisp on the outside with a fluffy inside and tasted so much of potato that all other white lumps of starch I’ve ever eaten pale into insignificance. Then there was the mash – the smoothest, creamiest example I’ve ever had in my own home. I can see why Michel gets behind Albert Bartlett, I’m behind them too and if they ever want me to endorse them I’d be happy to and there’s no risk of me losing a contract with the BBC either.
Michel Roux Jr and Albert Bartlett Potatoes £2.45 for a 1.5kg bag
* Completely made up sayings