F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 9 8 POTATO GROWER Potato Expo And NPC Annual Meeting Kick Off 2019 Strong In early January 2019, Austin was not only the Texas state capital but for two days it became the capital for the potato industry. The 11th Annual Potato Expo in the Austin Convention Center saw more than 1,800 people in atten- dance this year, as the event provid- ed over 150 exhibitors an opportu- nity to meet with current and potential clients. Vendors from every corner of the international potato industry, from Israel and Holland to Peru and Canada, came to the Expo to showcase their new equipment, software and to see what their competitors have devel- oped. On a stage at one end of the show floor was the Innovation Hub where the 17 speakers gave presentations to a packed Expo house. Topics ranged from issues as diverse as soil health to potato irrigation manage- ment to nutrition research and pre- cision agriculture. An annual feature of the Expo are the separate industry breakout ses- sions on process, seed, fresh and chip potatoes and the Potato Association of America’s poster ses- sion. This year’s Spud Nation Throwdown saw three Austin area chefs, David Harap, Brian Moses and Ryan Spesock competed in a cook-off hosted by Food Network judge Simon Majumdar. Brian Moses won the fourth annual competition with his potato pastrami with smoked onion creation. In another corner of the trade show Phil Lempert, aka “Supermarket Guru” was conducting televised interviews of industry leaders, ses- sion speakers, the Spud Nation chefs and special guests at The Eye @PotatoExpo studio. This year’s featured speakers includ- ed Simon Majumdar speaking on “A Passion For Potatoes, A Culinary Demonstration,” and Tony Payan, who spoke on “North American Trade In An Era Of Uncertainty.” Payan addressed the recent trade negotiations among the U.S., Mexico and Canada that resulted in a new trade agreement. This year’s keynote speaker was NPC Mes sage by John Keeling, NPC Executive Vice President and CEO