Ms. Debra is a 2019 graduate of Food Shift’s Culinary Program. She leads by example drawing from her ease and confidence in the kitchen.
“Around age 11, I was already baking cakes and all. My mom was always gone or would go up to her room leaving me to cook in the kitchen. I didn’t mind at all, I enjoyed it. You would always see me in the kitchen because I had to feed my brother and sister.
One time over at my brother’s for a birthday party, no one was cooking. I took my apron out from my luggage, went into the kitchen, and was ready to start cooking right away. I knew that I was going to cook potato salad—it gets made everywhere. When I come with my apron that I take everywhere I go, folks get mad, but it’s hilarious since I’m famous for potato salad, and they should know by now! Wherever I am, I walk around, carving potatoes, just dancing and grooving as I cook.
My potato salad is always the first side dish that is gone. When everyone comes together, they go straight towards it. If you didn’t get any, don't go looking for me, because it is a first-come, first-serve kind of situation. There are many ways to make potato salad, but this is the way I like it.”
Potato Salad Recipe
- 7 cups of 1 inch diced potatoes, unpeeled (approximately 3 lbs)
- 1½ Tbsp salt, divided
- 1 cup finely chopped pickles or ⅓ cup relish
- Optional: 3 eggs, hard-boiled, roughly chopped
- 2 medium stalks celery, thinly sliced
- ½ tsp black pepper
- ½ cup mayonnaise (or substitute sour cream, yogurt, or olive oil)
- 1 Tbsp Dijon-style or yellow mustard
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- Ms. Debra’s Optional spice blend: 1 tsp celery salt, ½ tsp paprika, ½ tsp Old Bay seasoning
- Optional: 1 tsp vinegar or lemon juice
- Optional: ¼ cup green onions, thinly sliced; reserve 1 Tbsp for garnish
Place potatoes and 1 Tbsp salt in a large pot and fill with water about 2 inches above the potatoes.
Bring to a boil and lower to a simmer for about 10–15 minutes. The potatoes should be easy to pierce with a fork but not mushy.
Strain and let cool for 30 minutes.
In a large bowl make the mayonnaise dressing. Add mayonnaise, mustard, garlic powder, and the optional vinegar or lemon juice and spices.
Add cooked potatoes, chopped pickles, half the chopped eggs (if using), celery, and season with remaining ½ Tbsp salt and 1 tsp pepper.
Fold the dressing and optional green onions gently with the potatoes until well combined. Taste and adjust salt, as desired.
Garnish with the rest of the eggs, and if using, sprinkle with paprika and remaining 1 Tbsp green onions.
Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.
- Notes: For an herb-rich variation, replace the mayonnaise mixture with pesto or chimichurri. Toss after the potatoes are cooked and drained but still warm.
- Tip: Use caution when serving potato salad at picnics or events outside and in hot weather. To keep your potato salad cold at an outdoor party, add some ice and a little bit of water to a larger bowl and place the serving bowl with the potato salad inside. If the potato salad was made and put directly in the refrigerator as leftovers, it will last in a sealed container for 3–4 days. Sometimes the potatoes soak up all the dressing and are a little dry after sitting in the refrigerator, so you may need to add a little oil, vinegar, and salt to taste.
Maximizing Your Food
You can easily regrow your green onions! Save a 2–3 inch chunk of the bottom white root end. Put the root end in a glass of water, leaving the top part exposed. Place in a sunny location and watch the green onions regrow. Learn more about regrowing food in your kitchen.
The potato cooking water can be saved and used in a number of ways. It can act as a thickener because it contains starch from the potatoes. Try adding it to soups, chili, or to replace water when making gravy. Keep in mind that there is salt in the cooking water when adding it to your dish so you don’t oversalt.
More stories, recipes, tips, and videos from Food Shift:
- Kim's Bean Burgers
- Connie's Breakfast Frittata
- Danny’s Mushroom "Bacon"
- Lia's Fried Rice
- Food Shift Kitchen Guide
- Affordable Alternatives
Food is often rooted in story. In this monthly blog series, Food Shift, one of our Chef Partners, is amplifying the voices of their culinary training graduates and their community by sharing their stories and adaptable recipes. Stay tuned for more installments.
Portrait Artwork By: Sophia Zaleski
Learn more about Food Shift and their programs to rescue surplus food to fuel their social enterprise kitchen rather than waste away in landfills.