Like most desk jockeys I know, Monday morning isn’t my favourite time of the week, though this week was a little different as I followed a dog around a farm close to Canberra in search of the elusive black truffle.

Some chefs we know Tom Moore from Grazing and Knead Patisserie, Ross O’Reily from Knead Patisserie, Andy Hollands from Ellacure and Chris Whitlock from Lambert Vineyards have got together to run an chef apprentice development program, which aims to educate their apprentices and trainees from farm to plate.  Each quarter they take their apprentices to meet a regional producer of an ingredient, learn some more about the ingredient and participate in a Masterclass to learn how to cook with it.  The apprentices are then set the challenge of using the ingredient to develop a  menu for a dinner for the chefs and their guests.

Move over Masterchef – this is the real deal!

So like most good ideas, the chefs wanted to talk about this one over a couple of beers and we never say no to beer.  So far we’ve assisted the chefs to create a brand name and logo The Four Chefs, set up a basic website, got our good friend photographer and office flatmate Paul Chapman involved to create some stunning imagery, generated some media attention and connected them with our client the Capital Region Farmers Markets – who have built a mobile kitchen that the guys and their apprentices are using for monthly public cooking demonstrations using regional produce.

So what did I learn about Truffles that I didn’t know before:

1.    They are a fungus that grows on the roots of certain Oak Trees – the ones that grow all around Canberra so maybe a truffle hunt in the streets of Ainslie might be on the cards!

2.    The romans were the first ones to eat them though who knows what possessed them to eat something that resembles something that comes out the rear end of a horse

3.    They can retail for anywhere up to $3000 a kilo depending on quality

4.    The French use female pigs to sniff them out as their smell resembles the feromones of a male pig on heat which means they need no training to find them

5.    In Australia pigs are not allowed to be used for sniffing out truffles and so dogs are trainined similar to customs dogs to sniff out the prized nuggets
And where to from here with The Four Chefs?  Well like most good ideas the next bit will also come over a couple of beers – truffle infused this time!

Some ideas so far have included a capital region cookbook, cooking school and Masterclasses, gourmet tours of Canberra, special event dinners and maybe even a kitchen product range.

If you’re like me and became a Masterchef tragic over the last month, what are your ideas for where The Four Chefs idea could go? If you leave us a good one you might even get a look in at the next quarterly dining experience.

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