Truffles are eternal, even in our world of elevated street food and fast-casual service. Which makes it all the better for Christopher Heinlein and Timothy San Pedro, culinary students at Art Institute of Orange County in Santa Ana, who created truffle dishes decadent enough to send the two to Italy. The team is one of seven finalists in a nationwide contest for culinary arts students spotlighting the luxe fungus. Starting this week, Heinlein and San Pedro will spend 14 days immersed in Italian cuisine training at Universita dei Sapori and Accademia del Tartufo—the University of Tastes and the Truffle Academy.
While there, they’ll prepare their contest dishes, and first-, second-, and third-place winners will be chosen. Heinlein and San Pedro’s Japanese-dumpling-inspired amuse bouche is a nori “gyoza” with arugula, goat cheese, duck, honey, and shaved truffle, garnished with pickled red onion and mushroom and veal sauce. Their main dish lays on the truffles in layers: seared onto braised pork belly, blended into cauliflower purée and masa crumble, and in an accompanying pomegranate sauce.
With all that high-end umami working for them, how can Heinlein and San Pedro miss? Orange County wishes them the best of luck!