Califonia Bountiful

Appealing cuisine

The Sierra Gold potato is a new development that will delight those who like comfort food.

Comfort food--the name itself brings thoughts of something warm, inviting and just like mom used to make. Whether it's a plate piled high with mashed potatoes, or a big order of French fries, comfort food is back in a big way. This trend is going strong at restaurants throughout California, including at Jack's in Sacramento.

Hundreds of miles from Jack's, and a virtual world away, in the far northern end of the state, there's a new development that will delight those who like old-fashioned foods. Here, in Tulelake, Rob Campbell is seeing the benefit of a nearly twenty-year effort to develop the king of comfort food--a new variety of potato. He helped guide researchers into developing the Sierra Gold potato, a cross between a hearty Russet with the sweetness and alluring color of yellow varieties.

"To be honest, it has been the biggest challenge of my life, but it was been so rewarding to finally now see it in supermarkets from coast to coast of the United States and border to border," he said. "We're there, but it has been a huge, huge challenge."

From humble beginnings, 40 million pounds of Sierra Gold spuds are grown each year, and that figure is expected to be up to 300 million pounds in less than five years. This success story is more than business for Rob--it was an all-consuming dream that meant a lot to his daughter, Amanda Leo, who now markets the Sierra Gold.

"It makes me really proud that he's been able to do something like this, because it's not an easy task by any means," she said. "There were a lot of people I think who said 'you go ahead with that--let us know how it goes,' but he definitely stuck to it and it's something people are particularly excited about."

So whether it's meatloaf, pasta, or mashed potatoes, it looks like foods that warm the soul--and the people growing them--will be providing comfort and happiness to millions of diners for years to come.

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