2019 Truffle Kerfuffle | Talking truffles with chef Tony Howell

Cape Lodge chef Tony Howell will be running the free stage at this year's Truffle Kerfuffle festival village at Fonty's Pool in Manjimup. Photo supplied.
Cape Lodge chef Tony Howell will be running the free stage at this year's Truffle Kerfuffle festival village at Fonty's Pool in Manjimup. Photo supplied.

It is that time of year again when the region's foodies start getting excited about the impending truffle season and for Cape Lodge chef Tony Howell truffle season is a gift worth celebrating.

Chef Howell will be centre stage at this year's Truffle Kerfuffle where he will run the free stage and speak with celebrity chefs including Pete Evans, Poh and Dunsborough's Aaron Carr.

The chefs will be performing cooking demonstrations on stage using truffles and Howell will host questions and answer sessions with Manjimup growers.

"People can ask questions about truffles, the season, growing conditions and how to get them started, because everyone wants to grow truffles," he said.

"It is always fun and interactive, it is only a small stage with about 60 people in the audience, which is lovely because they can get up close and personal with their heroes."

Howell cannot wait to return to Manjimup for the festival, saying the area had so much going for it and there were more truffles than you could ever imagine.

"It is spectacular you almost forget about it when you do not go down there for a while, last year I took a wrong turn and ended up down a dirt track getting further and further away, it was the best drive ever," he said.

"There was all this undulating land with avocados and massive dams, it was beautiful, it is a special spot.

"For the punter, if you want to try truffles this is the time to go.

"Book in one of the lunches or dinners because the chefs are given truffles to use by the producers, they can't help themselves and go nuts with it.

"In the kitchen, because of the price of truffles, you have to be careful how much you use.

"When you go to one of these events the chefs will be chatting to each other and they just keep shaving and shaving and shaving, there is no way you would use that much in a restaurant.

"As far as the punter goes they are very spoilt, and as far as chefs go, it is like letting a kid free in a candy shop, give them a set of keys and tell them to go nuts we will be back in a couple of hours."

Howell said at Cape Lodge the chefs were already talking about truffles and creating new and different recipes to put on the menu during the truffle season.

"I even rang Gavin Booth from one of the farms who has already dug up 300 grams, they were not up to standard yet but they are not far off," he said.

"It is exciting, if truffles were here all year round they would not be that special, it is the mystique and the surprise, are we going to get enough, will the season be longer or shorter?

"For me truffles are a truly seasonal product."

Howell recommended going on a truffle hunt at the festival to see the dogs in action and how they react when they find a truffle.

"The dogs are so cool they do demonstrations it is really good to watch, I have been on a couple and they are unreal," he said.

"I went out at the start of one season when there were not that many truffles around, we were walking down an orchard cruising around and the dog took a left hand turn - bang - ran seven rows down.

"I said to the guy, your dog has taken off, he said, nah he is on to something but there should not be anything yet I do not know why he has gone that way but he must think something is there.

"We get down there, the dog has pawed the dirt, we dug it up and there was a massive nugget of truffle, I got to cut if off the tree it was just the coolest thing.

"It is that element of surprise, if you did not have a dog you would spend hours searching, a dog can find them in five minutes."

Truffle Kerfuffle is an all weekend celebration of fresh black truffles, the event will be held from June 21 to 23 2019 in Manjimup, the heart of Australia's truffle country.

To find out more information about the event or to purchase tickets visit trufflekerfuffle.com.au/.

This story Talking truffles with Cape Lodge chef Tony Howell first appeared on Busselton-Dunsborough Mail.