Thanks for the advice. Hard to know who to trust on the net. I wasn't sure about the age of the potatoes, but a couple of accounts I read suggested it. Herve didn't mention it, so I think your on the side of the angels. Then again some people suggested laminating two slices of potato together.
One guy suggested testing them in the hot oil, so you can cull the ones that won't puff. Leaving you with only the puffable ones before service. Seems to me like that would be more convenient only if you're doing it for ala carte service.
I think I may have found a technique that will increase the yield of puffed chips. Credit to Jeffery Steingarten and the guys at the Cooking Issues blog. You do a poach at ~65 deg C before frying. This activates the pectin methylesterase inherent in the potato. This enzyme strengthens the outside crust, and promotes hollowness (at least in french fries).
I don't know about buying them in, and it's not really my decision. Russet Burbank 100s are going for about US$17 per case according to the AMS report for Los Angeles. Still seems cheaper, even with a extra labor and terrible yield. OTH, Gourmet Potato Works is in the next county. I found a youtube video they did demonstrating their product. They got 100% poof, but who knows in how many takes.
Not sure what you mean by stacking them on a mandoline. We don't have a full fledged mandoline anyway. We got a benriner and a deli slicer.
Ross and edb- I checked the menus of restaurants that the blog post's had identified as serving them, and with pics. BLT Fish in NTC, and LB Steak out west. They didn't have them on their menu as of yesterday. The prices quoted were like 8-9 US$ a side.
When you say baby carrots, do you mean the peeled things with round ends you get at the market? Or true baby carrots? Personally, I don't like working with true baby carrots. Too often they get all 'limp willy' on you and it's almost impossible to peel.
Montparnasse? Like near Rue de Rennes? I had no idea you were such a bohemian.
HA! You're a brownienoser!!! Sneaky patissier batard!.
My Personal Potato Trepidation Score upgraded to: