Talent show

The National Truffle Fest draws an incredible pool of talented regional chefs and other truffle experts:

Shannon M. Berch
is a research scientist for the BC Ministry of Environment, has co-authored six published works and serves as an adjunct professor with the University of British Columbia and with Royal Roads University. She is a consultant specializing in quality assurance of truffle-inoculated seedlings. She is also a founding member of the Truffle Association of British Columbia.

Tyler Brown of the Capitol Grille in Nashville was named one of the "Four New Chefs to Watch" by Esquire Magazine in 2011. Also in attendance will be Vivian Howard (Chef & the Farmer, Kinston, N.C.).

Host chef Ashley Christensen is the chef/owner of Poole's Downtown Diner in Raleigh, recently featured in a vibrant Bon Appetit profile. Ashley has been a guest chef at The James Beard house, Taste of the South, and was most recently featured on the Food Network’s Iron Chef America.

John Fleer, formerly of the award-winning Blackberry Farm, is the executive chef of Canyon Kitchen in Sapphire, N.C. where his work earned him a nomination for the James Beard Award.

Matt Kelly
has been a chef at Triangle-area restaurants such as Four Square, The Fearrington House, Fins and, most recently, Vin Rouge in Durham, which he co-owns.

Ian Purkayastha,
the director of sales of P.A.Q., in New York, travels to Italy between the winter and summer truffle-selling seasons to meet truffle hunters, acquaint himself with P.A.Q.'s packaged-goods manufacturing facility, and study Italian at the University of Perugia.

Tom Michaels
received his master’s degree from the University of Nevada researching mushrooms. At Oregon State University, his Ph.D. dissertation was on the cultivation of Perigord truffles, and having successfully inoculated the first truffle tree in America, he pioneered techniques that laid the groundwork for growing them beyond Europe. He produces truffles for leading chefs such as Daniel Boulud and David Chang.

Emanuele Musini is the chief executive of P.A.Q. Gubbio, a leading import company for truffles.

Karin Stanley
co-owns Dutch Kills in Long Island, N.Y., named one of the top 50 bars in the U.S. by Food & Wine Magazine.

Jim Trappe
has authored or co-authored more than 450 scientific papers, three books, and with his students and colleagues has described and named a new order of truffles, two new families, 40 new genera and 140 new species.

Tandy Wilson
owns the City House in Nashville, and is a member of the Southern Foodways Alliance.

Cynthia Wong
is the pastry chef of Empire State South, in Atlanta, Ga. She writes for Atlanta’s Creative Loafing and served as an assistant food stylist for Turner Broadcasting’s Dinner and a Movie.

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