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—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 for 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, 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 grows up to become a force in the world of fine dining.
- "[An] earnest insider perspective on the luxury-food industry [and] Bourdain-esque travelogue that chronicles parties at an Italian villa, a truffle harvest in the Spanish province of Aragon, and mushroom-gathering in rural Oregon."—The New Yorker
- "[Truffle Boy] is a unique blend of bildungsroman and foodie/truffle primer sure to appeal to a wide audience. . . . An informative and charming food and travel memoir."—Kirkus Reviews
- "In this delightful chronicle, Purkayastha charmingly recounts his own rags-to-riches tale . . . his passion for truffles animates his story."—Publishers Weekly
- "Ian tells his story in funny, thoughtful, and occasionally downright incredible anecdotes."—Food & Wine
- "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 Timesbestselling author of Heritage
- "The life of a truffle salesman in New York City as described by the sometimes bumbling, seemingly guileless, and always charming Ian Purkayastha, whose adventures in the cutthroat underworld of rare food purveyors take him from glamorous restaurant kitchens to treacherous dealings all across Europe and back again. Hugely entertaining!"—Luke Barr, author of Provence, 1970: M.F.K. Fisher, Julia Child, James Beard, and the Reinvention of American Taste
- "When Ian enters my kitchen I am filled with the same giddy emotions you might have gotten when you heard the chimes of the ice cream truck rolling through your neighborhood as a child. Curating the rarest and most special of ingredients goes beyond career; it's an entire way of life. Give this book a good read so you can begin to understand what passion really is."—Alex Stupak, chef and owner of Empellón
- "There's no substitute for the relationship that I have as a chef with Ian's energy and support to invigorate our menus. It took only one visit to my kitchen to appreciate his success. His commitment to acquiring the highest level of artisanal ingredients and powerful foraged treasures is unmatched. I can always rely on his consistency and research in his work as a partner to the energy in our kitchen. We need more people like Ian to raise the bar of our sources and our relationship with Mother Nature."—David Bouley, chef and restaurateur
- "Ian's enthusiasm for wild and exotic foods is unparalleled. His chronicle of personal and professional adventures in search of the best products on earth makes him a true wanderer of nature."—Daniel Boulud, chef and owner of The DinexGroup
- "Truffle Boy demystifies...the world of luxury food, [but] Purkayastha's enthusiasm rings most clearly when he's writing about his time out in the field gathering wild plants and rarities, from the hills around his family's home in Huntsville, Arkansas, to the forests of India."—Garden & Gun
- On Sale
- Feb 7, 2017
- Page Count
- 304 pages
- Hachette Books