Truffle love

With $17,000 worth of black truffles, top chefs create a feast for 200 lucky guests and one charity

Top chefs create culinary magic with $17,000 worth of black truffles

7 Diane Roederer, from left, David Denis and Elizabeth Stone at the Houston Truffle Chef of the Year Challenge January 2015
Diane Roederer, from left, Le Mistral chef David Denis and  chef/owner Elizabeth Stone of Silver Stone Events. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
30 David Cordua at the Houston Truffle Chef of the Year Challenge January 2015
David Cordua's Americas team takes top honors. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
31 Javier U. Lopez, from left, Andrew Park and Richard Nguyen at the Houston Truffle Chef of the Year Challenge January 2015
Brennan's chef Javier U. Lopez, from left, Andrew Park and Richard Nguyen garnered first runner up award for their truffle bread pudding. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
24 Jason Grigar at the Houston Truffle Chef of the Year Challenge January 2015
Urban Eats chef Jason Grigar and his truffle temptation. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
22 Letisia Henderson, left, and Blanca Barron at the Houston Truffle Chef of the Year Challenge January 2015
Letisia Henderson, left, and Blanca Barron were among those sampling truffle dishes from 20 chefs. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
29 Brian Evans, from left, Michael Pellegrino and Ana Amaya at the Houston Truffle Chef of the Year Challenge January 2015
Max's Wine Dive team Brian Evans, from left, Michael Pellegrino and Ana Amaya. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
28 Monica Bui and Philippe Verpiand at the Houston Truffle Chef of the Year Challenge January 2015
Etoile's Monica Bui and chef Philippe Verpiand. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
26 Kelly Ripley and Charles Clark at the Houston Truffle Chef of the Year Challenge January 2015
Kelly Ripley and Clark/Cooper Concepts' Charles Clark. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
21 Luigi Shimaj, left, and Efisio Farris at the Houston Truffle Chef of the Year Challenge January 2015
Luigi Shimaj, left, and Efisio Farris of Arcodoro. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
17 Kris Jacob at the Houston Truffle Chef of the Year Challenge January 2015
Chef Kris Jakob of Kris Bistro & Wine Bar. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
15 Erika Jeschke and Olivier Ciesielski at the Houston Truffle Chef of the Year Challenge January 2015
L'Olivier chef Olivier Ciesielski offers Erika Jeschke a whiff of the areomatic truffles. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
13 Camilo Boada, from left, Arturo Boada and Claire Holmes at the Houston Truffle Chef of the Year Challenge January 2015
Camilo Boada, from left, chef Arturo Boada of Arturo Boada Cuisine and Claire Holmes. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
11 Kristyn Story, left, and Jailyn Marcel at the Houston Truffle Chef of the Year Challenge January 2015
Kristyn Story, left, and Jailyn Marcel. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
1 Eric Sandler, from left, Cleverley Stone and John DeMers at the Houston Truffle Chef of the Year Challenge January 2015
Judges Eric Sandler of CultureMap, from left, Cleverley Stone and John DeMers. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
3 NAME and Jacques Fox at the Houston Truffle Chef of the Year Challenge January 2015
Judges Katherine Whaley of KTRK Channel 13 and chef Jacques Fox of Artisans. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
16 Sebastien Boileau and Liza Carlos at the Houston Truffle Chef of the Year Challenge January 2015
Liza Carlos and Sebastien Boileau. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
8 Roederer truffles at the Houston Truffle Chef of the Year Challenge January 2015
Roederer truffles arrive in Houston directly from Spain. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
7 Diane Roederer, from left, David Denis and Elizabeth Stone at the Houston Truffle Chef of the Year Challenge January 2015
30 David Cordua at the Houston Truffle Chef of the Year Challenge January 2015
31 Javier U. Lopez, from left, Andrew Park and Richard Nguyen at the Houston Truffle Chef of the Year Challenge January 2015
24 Jason Grigar at the Houston Truffle Chef of the Year Challenge January 2015
22 Letisia Henderson, left, and Blanca Barron at the Houston Truffle Chef of the Year Challenge January 2015
29 Brian Evans, from left, Michael Pellegrino and Ana Amaya at the Houston Truffle Chef of the Year Challenge January 2015
28 Monica Bui and Philippe Verpiand at the Houston Truffle Chef of the Year Challenge January 2015
26 Kelly Ripley and Charles Clark at the Houston Truffle Chef of the Year Challenge January 2015
21 Luigi Shimaj, left, and Efisio Farris at the Houston Truffle Chef of the Year Challenge January 2015
17 Kris Jacob at the Houston Truffle Chef of the Year Challenge January 2015
15 Erika Jeschke and Olivier Ciesielski at the Houston Truffle Chef of the Year Challenge January 2015
13 Camilo Boada, from left, Arturo Boada and Claire Holmes at the Houston Truffle Chef of the Year Challenge January 2015
11 Kristyn Story, left, and Jailyn Marcel at the Houston Truffle Chef of the Year Challenge January 2015
1 Eric Sandler, from left, Cleverley Stone and John DeMers at the Houston Truffle Chef of the Year Challenge January 2015
3 NAME and Jacques Fox at the Houston Truffle Chef of the Year Challenge January 2015
16 Sebastien Boileau and Liza Carlos at the Houston Truffle Chef of the Year Challenge January 2015
8 Roederer truffles at the Houston Truffle Chef of the Year Challenge January 2015

Long associated with the French champagne house, the name Roederer (as in Louis Roederer bubbly) has a whole new meaning for Houstonians who attended Monday night's inaugural "Truffle Chef of the Year Challenge."

We are now thinking big, black wonderfully aromatic truffles from Spain under the label Roederer USA and under the auspices of Diane Roederer, a cousin of the champagne family. With the assistance of Elizabeth Stone of Silver Stone Events, Madame Roederer, a French expat, orchestrated the tasting and competition evening at National Tree & Shrub nursery.

Roderer provided 450 grams of black truffles (a value of $17,000) to 20 eager chefs who were given free rein to work their culinary artistry on the portable stoves set up in the tented nursery pavilion. The evening doubled as a fundraiser for Les Dames d'Escoffier International's scholarship program.

Américas' chef David Cordua's whimsical truffle twinkie narrowly edged Brennan's truffle bread pudding (first runner up) and Coppa Osteria's fried brioche bowl with sea urchin, quail egg and truffle (second runner up). 

Lucky the 200 invited guests, who parted with a minimum $125 ($250 for VIP tickets) for the rare privilege of tasting so many amazing dishes featuring the luxury ingredient. The heady aroma of truffles filled the air as guests sampled the various chef creations and washed them down with a free-flowing selection of wines.

"While a few stuck to traditional pasta or risotto with shaved truffle, the winning dishes incorporated them more creatively," noted contest judge Eric Sandler of CultureMap. "In the end, the seven judge panel selected Américas' chef David Cordua's whimsical truffle twinkie, which narrowly edged Brennan's truffle bread pudding (first runner up) and Coppa Osteria's fried brioche bowl with sea urchin, quail egg and truffle (second runner up)."

Prizes for the three winners were delicious reward for their efforts:  Cordua took home 1 kilo of fresh black truffles, valued at $1,500. Javier Lopez of Brennan's walked away with 250 grams, valued at $750, and Coppa Osteria's Brandi Key earned 250 grams valued at $375.

Sandler added that in addition to the finalists, standouts included Max's Wine Dive's truffle flan, Kuu's seared hamachi and Etoile's mushroom soup.

Joining Sander were judges KTRK Channel 13's Katherine Whaley, Artisans chef Jacques Fox, food writer and Houston Press blogger Mai Pham, Houston Chronicle food editor Greg Morago, food writer and author John DeMers and Houston Restaurant Weeks founder Cleverley Stone.

Rounding out the chef line up were David Denis of Le Mistral, Fritz Gitschner of 60 Degrees Mastercrafted, Jason Grigar of Urban Eats, David Skinner of Eculent Modern Farm to Table, Efisio Farris of Arcodoro, Olivier Ciesielski of L'Olivier, Steve Haug of Del Frisco's Double Eagle Steak House, Kenneth Burke of Ibiza, Kiran Verma of Kiran's Indian Cuisine, Aaron Allen of The Inn at Dos Brisas, Arturo Boada of Arturo Boada Cuisine, Jacob Kris of Kris Bistro, Manuel Pucha of Table on Post Oak and John Michael Lynch of Ristorante Cavour at Hotel Ganduca.

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