The truf­fle gets its day

Houston Chronicle Sunday - - ZEST - By Greg Mor­ago

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.

Jon Shap­ley pho­tos / Hous­ton Chron­i­cle

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.

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