The truffle season only occurs a couple of times a year which is just one of the many reasons why Cape Lodge chef Tony Howell loves truffles.
If truffles were around 12 months of the year, chef Howell believed they would lose a certain mystique which made the rare delicacy so great.
“It is a bit like when Rottnest Island scallops come out for a couple of weeks each year, you just got to have them,” he said.
“You almost feel like a spoilt kid cause you got some, and it is the same with truffles."
Each year chef Howell looked forward to the time when growers rocked up to his kitchen with truffles and while they were talking they would remove the lid and after 30 seconds he would get his first waft of truffles.
“All of a sudden you go wow, that first waft of the truffle,” he said.
Chef Howell went out on the first dig of the season last week, and after finding some truffles drove into town with the grower to chat with some locals.
“After 20 minutes we got back and opened the car doors, we almost could not get in it was that strong – I said wow this is something you live for - it was so good” he said.
“We drove back to the farm which was another 15 minutes away and this smell was just in your face, by the time we got back to the farm I was starving.”
Chef Howell loves to come up with a couple of new dishes for truffles each year and finds the subterranean fungi pushed him to create new ideas.
“Last night I did a dessert which was a macadamia, caramel and truffle tart, it was sweet but then you had the earthy truffle flavour through it,” he said.
“I also did a cooking class last weekend at Cape Lodge for truffles, I am just playing with truffles this week.
“It makes you remember why you are actually cooking, it is not always about pumping food out on a table. It is actually about taking time and having fun with it and it inspires you.
“When you get the truffles you push yourself to think about something new and different.”
Chef Howell will be one of many a fine chef appearing at Truffle Kerfuffle in Manjimup this month, showcasing some of the region’s finest delicacies and he can’t wait to get there.
“It is almost like a weekend away without work, it feels a bit like a holiday,” he said.
Chef Howell will be in the marquee for the From the Earth events on Saturday, June 23 and Sunday, June 24 to chat with foodies and perform cooking demonstrations.
“There will be marrons, truffles, wines, bravo apples and all the local produce,” he said.
“Mark Best will be there, he is probably one of the best chefs in Australia, Marianne Lumb from London and Bruno Loubet – there is going to be some fantastic talent in that as it is – and it is a free one too.”
The marquee will be setup at the festival’s village centre at Fonty’s Pool in Manjimup.
“It is such a vibrant little hub at the festival, you can get your pass there for two days and come and go as you please, it is just buzzing and so much fun,” he said.
“All the growers are there, it is like going to the biggest farmers market you have ever been to in your life.”
It will be the second time Chef Howell has featured at the foodie festival and he can’t wait to get back there after having his first taste last year.
“When I got back from Truffle Kerfuffle last year I had eggs from Manjimup and I had pork from Manjimup, so I just did a little scrambled fry up on the barbecue and finished it truffles on top,” he said.
“You only get to do it a couple of times a year and then it is gone - which is great because you almost get truffled out – but by the time it comes back next year you cannot wait to start again.”