The truffle gets its day
Chef Manabu Horiuchi has a winning way with truffles. For the second year in a row, the Kata Robata chef took first place in the 2017 Truffle Masters competition in which 23 chefs used fresh black truffles from Spain to create dishes.
More than 500 foodies turned out for the third annual event at the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts, sponsored by luxury food importer DR Delicacy and catering and event planner Silver Stone Events.
Horiuchi bested his competition, which included some of the city’s top chefs, with two superior tastes: an open-face truffle banh mi (made with Texas kobe beef, oyster mushrooms, pickled cucumber and carrots) and a honey truffle ice cream with buckwheat truffle powder. Last year, Horiuchi won with his dish of cold soba noodles, mushrooms, fresh sea urchin and freshly shaved black truffles.
Each chef was given black truffles to create a dish. The winner received 1 kilogram (about 2.2 pounds) of black truffles worth about $1,900 (DR Delicacy’s Spanish black truffles sell for about $60 an ounce).
Chef Adison Lee of Kuu Restaurant was judged first runner-up for his housecured smoked salmon with black truffle cream and shaved black truffles. Second runner-up was Mark Holley of Holley’s Seafood Restaurant & Oyster Bar, who made snapper ceviche with kumquat, lime, mint and benne seeds topped with truffle. The People’s Choice Award went to chef Austin Simmons of Cureight restaurant at Hubbell & Hudson in The Woodlands, who created oyster and truffle potage with American sturgeon caviar (also imported by DR Delicacy).
Diane Roederer, founder of DR Delicacy, said she is happy to spread the truffle love in Houston via the Truffle Masters challenge.
“When you want to get into a community, you support a community,” Roederer said of her efforts to bring truffles to a greater audience by working with Houston chefs. “They help to educate the palate, and then the public becomes more aware of the product.”
There were many truffle highlights among the participating restaurants and chefs. Le Mistral restaurant made a crepe filled with truffle and Mornay sauce and deepfried. SaltAir Seafood Kitchen offered delicate soup dumplings filled with truffle and glass noodles. B&B Butchers & Restaurant gilded its popular thick-slice bacon appetizer with truffle-infused honey and blue cheese crumbles. Brasserie 1895 took farm egg yolks and infused them with truffle and dusted them with vanilla powder.
Triniti made truffle paté and surrounded it with pastry. Sud Italia packed intense flavors into its sea scallop with bone marrow sauced with nduja cream and shaved black truffles. Peska Seafood Culture also worked with a scallop — but its came with cauliflower purée, Spanish chorizo and black truffle sauce. BCN Taste & Tradition offered a black truffle and rabbit tart while Radio Milano made pupusas with oxtail and black truffle. Café Annie turned in a sea scallop with seaweed, sabayon and truffle aspic. La Table’s mushroom ravioli was glossed with bordelaise sauce, Parmesan foam and shavings of black truffle. And from Brennan’s of Houston? What else but truffle gumbo?
Bartender Alba Huerta of Julep created two cocktails using chef Robert Del Grande’s Roxor gin.
The proceeds from the event were donated to the scholarship program of Les Dames d’Escoffier International’s Houston chapter, which supports the diverse group of people in Houston pursuing an education in culinary arts, wine, hospitality and agriculture industries.
Manabu Horiuchi, executive chef of Kata Robata, won the competition with his honey truffle ice cream.
Cureight executive chef Austin Simmons took the People’s Choice Award for his oyster and truffle potage.