More local eateries are going the route of hand-cut fries and Michigan-based chain Bagger Dave's isn't immune to the trend. Detroit's location cuts nearly 100 pounds of potatoes daily for customers looking for a traditional serving with sea salt and ketchup or a make-your-own fry plate. After watching an impressive video of one employee's high-speed fry cutting feat, Eater visited the downtown location to witness Bagger Dave's process first-hand.
An order of fries starts with the potatoes. Each restaurant receives 50-pound bags in shipments from a vendor in Pennsylvania. While the spuds are no longer grown locally, the company is serious about its proprietary potatoes designed with the help of a Michigan State University Potato consultant. Back in the restaurant, restaurant partner Matthew Blankenship demonstrates how employees inspect each potato for blemishes. Once the approved he feeds them quickly through a metal potato slicer. Fry-shaped spuds emerge from the slicer and land in a sink of water. "People go fast. We recently just had in one of our other locations someone cut a whole bag of fries in 60 seconds," Blankenship explains.
"It's kind of a challenge throughout the stores to see who can be the best at slinging potatoes."
Once they've soaked, the potatoes are whisked upstairs to the fryer where they're blanched in 300-degree oil. Timing is very important at this point, Blankenship says. For best results, Bagger Dave's recipe requires fries not to sit too long in any of the cooking phases. He "agitates" the fries by shaking the basket, making sure each one cooks evenly and doesn't stick to the surrounding fries. Fresh from the first fryer, the potatoes are left to "sweat" for exactly 15 minutes before being fried and agitated again. The potatoes are finally ready when they emerge golden brown. Blankenship seasons them in sea salt. From here, their lifespan is two minutes from kitchen to table.
Blankenship says the company doesn't do portion sizes but rather measures in "heaping servings." Fries are either placed in a bag or plated for a specialty fry and paired with a wide array of dipping sauces from cinnamon to chipotle.