"[Ian Purkayastha] has a true, deep expertise in everything he sells - caviar, truffles, fish. He knows the stories that we need to sell the stuff tableside...he can disrupt the entire luxury foods market." (From the foreword by David Chang)
Ian Purkayastha is New York City's leading truffle importer and boasts a devoted clientele of top chefs nationwide, including Jean-Georges Vongerichten, David Chang, Sean Brock, and David Bouley. But before he was purveying the world's most expensive fungus to the country's most esteemed chefs, Ian was just a food-obsessed teenager in rural Arkansas - a misfit with a peculiar fascination with rare and exotic ingredients.
The son of an Indian immigrant father and a Texan mother, Ian learned to forage for wild mushrooms from an uncle in the Ozark hills. Thus began a single-track fixation that led him to learn about the prized but elusive truffle, the king of all fungi. His first taste of truffle at age 15 sparked his improbable yet remarkable adventure through the strange - and often corrupt - business of the exotic food trade.
Rife with tales from the hidden underbelly of the elite restaurant scene, Truffle Boy chronicles Ian's high-stakes dealings with a truffle kingpin in Serbia, meth-head foragers in Oregon, crooked businessmen and maniacal chefs in Manhattan, and gypsy truffle hunters in the forests of Hungary and a supreme adventure to find "Gucci mushrooms" in the Himalayan foothills - the land of the gods. He endures harsh failures along the way but rebuilds with tremendous success by selling not just truffles but also caviar, wild mushrooms, rare foraged edibles, Wagyu beef, and other nearly unobtainable ingredients demanded by his Michelin-starred clients.
Truffle Boy is a thrilling coming-of-age story and the incredible but true tale of a country kid who grew up to become a force in the world of fine dining.
"Ian's story is an entertaining reminder that age is just a number and passion is everything. An inspiring read that is sure to make you want to get off your ass and chase your dreams." (Sean Brock, James Beard Award-winning chef and New York Times best-selling author of Heritage)
"Ian's enthusiasm for wild and exotic foods is unparalleled. His chronicle of personal and professional adventures in search of the best products the earth offers makes him a true wanderer of nature." (Daniel Boulud, chef and owner of The Dinex Group)
"In this delightful chronicle, Purkayastha charmingly recounts his own rags-to-riches tale.... His passion for truffles animates his story." (Publishers Weekly)
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Great fun read
- Victor W. Christianson
This was one of my favorites.
I truly enjoyed hearing about the ways in which author's family shaped him, his early adolescent challenges, his passion for truffles [of course], steps and mis-steps in the formation of a viable business model, traveling the world to learn everything possible about truffles, foraging for edibles like ramps... All before the age of 23.
I haven't heard the narrator before. He was a perfect fit.
This is a great audiobook to listen to while puttering in the kitchen, whatever you have on the menu.
- Nicki H.