Society / The Seen

Houston’s Top Chefs Go Wild With the Most Expensive Food on Earth

And the Winner is…

BY // 01.18.17
photography Daniel Ortiz

At $95 or so an ounce, black truffles are nothing to be trifled with. Just ask the 25 top chefs who were each given a pound of the so-called black diamonds of the kitchen in the third annual Truffle Masters Competition, sponsored by Houston-based DR Delicacy.

The chefs claim to enjoy these cooking competitions and work diligently to win top honors. But this particular competition elevates the game. Consider the fact that Culinaire Inspired Cuisine & Events chef Barbara McKnight employed two bottles of Cristal (at $200 each) in her chiffon cake with truffle creme anglaise. Likewise, BCN chef Luis Roger (who hails from Spain as do the truffles) went way back in culinary traditions with his rabbit chaud-froid on crispy fillo topped with porcini mushroom, artichoke, black truffle and onion marmalade.

Even at that, these two were not the winners of the heated competition. Kata Robata chef Manabu Horiuchi took first place honors for his open face truffle banh mi, which starred Texas Kobe beef, honey truffle ice cream and buckwheat truffle powder. KUU Restaurant’s Addison Lee earned first runner up with his truffle kunsei featuring house-cured smoked salmon, maki and black truffle cream. Mark Holley of his namesake Holley’s Seafood Restaurant & Oyster Bar landed at second runner up with his snapper ceviche laced with kumquat, lime, mint and benne seeds along with truffles.

More than 500 guests grazed through the field of over-the top offerings presented at stations in the Grand Lobby of the Hobby Center. Despite its massive size, the two-story space was redolent of the deliciously pungent fungi. Guests voted Hubbell and Hudson chef Austin Simmons as the People’s Choice winner for his oyster and truffle potage featuring DR Delicacy American sturgeon caviar.

Those ponying up $250 for VIP tickets had entree to Artista where Robert Del Grande and Don Short offered generous pours of their RoXor artisan gin and were DR Delicacy owner and event producer Diane Roederer offered samplings of her caviar line. (Cafe Annie chef Elliot Kelly worked the Del Grande station out in the competition area, preparing sea scallop with ogo seaweed and truffle aspic.) Proceeds from this calorific, beyond delicious event benefited Les Dames d’Escoffier.

Seen: Event director, catering chef and cookbook author Elizabeth Stone, Andrea and T.D. Williams, Tim Balombin, Lee Stockwell, Diane and Bruce Kink, Heather Ghiselin, Leslie and Irwin Harvey, Andrea Skrapka, Leo Avinger and Denise Conrad, Cheryl and Kevin Ormston, Trevor Thompson, Shannon Smith, Taylor Harper, and among the judges Chef Jacques Fox, Katherine Whaley, Cleverley Stone, Eric Sandler, and Janice Schindeler.

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