To begin with, we smoked oil blanched fries with tasty results. Our initial idea proved sound. The next test was frying par cooked potatoes. These were made with whole potatoes cooked in a water bath at 65 degrees Celsius, which were then cut into fries, smoked, and fried. No other blanching was involved. These fries were amazing, the structure and shape of each one was sharp and clearly defined, filled with potato from crust to center with no shrinkage, and the light smoky flavor was pleasant without being overwhelming. The kitchen team ate plates of these as a snack during the workshop.
When the session ended and we moved into the prep period I looked over at the smoker. Zach (the sous chef) had just cut up some sweet potatoes and placed them on the rack. He looked up, smiled and said "smoked sweet potato fries." Brilliant. We were all busy in the kitchen and it seemed like only an instant went by before he reappeared with a plate in hand and I was eating a sweet and smoky deep orange fry. I am not normally a fan of sweet potato fries, though with that hint of smoke I could certainly get used to them quick. We added a bit of hot sauce on the side, in lieu of ketchup and the fries disappeared like lightning.
I had focused on traditional russet potatoes for smoking fries. It was great to see the idea through someone else's eyes and to taste the immediate results. Yesterday I forgot to ask the question, what else can be a fry? Thankfully someone else remembered.