Being winter, those little black nuggets of goodness – truffles – seem to be everywhere. And while you may have tasted them, few of us know exactly what makes truffles so special and even fewer know what to do with these unique mushrooms in the kitchen.
Well, Melbourne’s latest cooking school, à table, is here to change that. Created by husband and wife team Sara Hinchey and Tom Pikusa, à table’s Truffle Experience workshop focuses on providing both an educational and hands-on truffle cooking experience. Each workshop begins with an introduction to truffle products and history followed by a walk-through of three delicious take-home truffle recipes. Baked truffle-filled brie, anyone?
As a full time barrister from Monday to Friday, à table’s chief creator, Hinchey, already had a lot on her plate, but found her passion for food unstoppable. “I just truly love cooking – and truffles – and out of that love, I kept learning more and decided it was time to share what I learned,” she explains before a classroom full of eager truffle fans.
And these truffles are certainly unique. With their entire life cycle spent underground attached to the root systems of certain trees, truffles are both difficult to cultivate and source. Due to these specific living requirements, few countries have been able to successfully cultivate the fickle fungus. But luckily for us, Australia have mastered the art of raising truffles, allowing all of à table’s truffles to be Australian grown.
The couple doesn’t intend on stopping at just truffles. These two are dedicated to sharing their love for all kinds of simple yet delicious food and what they call a ‘back to basics’ approach. “We’re looking at doing more seasonal workshops,” Pikusa adds enthusiastically. “During the summer we’ll focus on preserving, cooking with summer herbs and pasta-making.”
And for those of us who are travellers at heart, Hinchey and Pikusa are currently working out the details for their 2013 Come to Dinner rendezvous, where the couple will guide visitors to their favourite fine food and wine producers from all over the world.
It is clear that this husband and wife team won’t let the demands of a nine-to-five job get in the way of their passion. And it is their fervent dedication to bringing high-class ingredients to the public that makes à table’s workshops an intimate and welcoming learning environment, whether you’re a seasoned foodie or an amateur chef.
à table will continue to hold truffle experience workshops at the Princes Hill Secondary College throughout August.
à table truffle experience workshops
Sundays: August 19 and 26, 11am–1pm
Thursday: August 23, 6.30pm–8.30pm
Other dates available for group events
Cost: $115 per person