Truffletopia: Another Rare Find in Chatham County

It’s always rewarding when we discover something new about our destination – each delightful layer builds upon the unique lore of Chatham County and our ever-expanding selection of offerings for visitors. In this piece, we speak with Tony Huey of Truffletopia – one of many rare finds in our area. 

The Trail to Truffles

Learning how a visitor business originated is always a fun part of our research. Do family and/or friends operate it? Where are they from, and how did they arrive in Chatham County? Are they a local who left and returned? A longtime resident? This process allows us to collaborate more closely and cohesively with our business owners. Moreover, hearing their stories reveals their dreams, passions, and affinity for their work. Upon hearing from a good friend and colleague that a small group of friends had bought land in Chatham County to cultivate truffles, we just had to reach out to cofounder Tony Huey to learn more about this unique project.

Tony graciously provided us with a private tour of the farm. As we explored the property, he spoke of the years of work that have gone into cultivating a long-term livelihood and potential offerings for guests. Joshua Esnard, Mickey Mitchell, Tony Huey, and their families started their journey in late 2019 by importing fresh truffles from Italy, France, and Spain and selling them to local chefs. The team soon developed a line of original sauces for chefs to incorporate into their recipes. Shared Tony, “Restaurants that serve truffles regularly include an up-charge of $50-60 to shave truffles onto a dish, or they do special prix fixe menus which include three to five courses and typically start at $250 – $300/person.” Shelf life was also a motivating factor – sauces and other products made with truffles have higher longevity than the fresh truffles themselves. The pandemic helped catapult their plan of making truffles affordable and accessible for amateur chefs and foodies. Though initially developed for chefs, the Truffletopia team found the public also taking to their sauces, especially with more people now cooking at home. 

In 2022, the team planted loblolly pine trees inoculated with white truffles on their one-acre farm. They expect to see their first season of truffle production in the early months of 2025. “We don’t know how much production we will have, but if we pull truffles in 2024 or 2025, we’ll know we’re on the right track, said Tony. From there, they expect to see production grow each year exponentially. 

Tony and his wife, Brittany Huey, recently welcomed a new addition to their family – a Bernedoodle (Bernese Mountain/Poodle mix) named Kokoro – and began training her to find truffles. “Koko caught on quickly. We started by laying out truffles on a walkway, and when she finds them, she gets rewarded. In a short time, we’ve graduated to burying the truffles, again rewarding her as she finds them.” Kokoro means heart in Japanese, as she has a heart-shaped marking on her back. “We paid a little homage to my Japanese grandmother, and we thought we could shorten it to Koko for easy pronunciation when she meets new people,” shared Tony. 

Cooking With Truffletopia

Appetizers, side dishes, and desserts are all enhanced with Truffletopia products. Truffles are tasty year-round in sweet or savory dishes: on pizza, popcorn, and everything from sides for the Big Game to ice cream for a special date night dinner at home. Tony tells us, “My favorite recipes are the desserts! I love to take fresh berries and make fruit reductions, adding a scoop of truffle sauce at the end. These truffle fruit sauces are so versatile – I use them to top ice cream or cheesecake, and I’ve even made pies with them.” The inspiration for truffle fruit sauces came from friend and Executive Chef Jason Lawless, who used one of Truffletopia’s sauces in a fruit topping for a vanilla bean crème brûlée dish in his restaurant, Parizade. 

Tony continues dishing about the delights of cooking with Truffletopia, saying, “The desserts stand out so much because most people think of truffle as an addition to savory dishes like pastas, meats, and pizzas, but truffles are much more versatile than people think…” His favorite recipe, though, may surprise you. “My proudest recipe was when I made truffle cranberry sauce for Thanksgiving. I might be biased, but I think it came out perfectly. As a kid, I loved canned cranberry sauce for the holidays, but as I grew older, cranberry sauce was no longer a favorite. Now, I could eat my homemade Truffle Cranberry Sauce for all the holidays.” 

Honey, olive oil, soy sauce, creams, and sauces sold by the jar are all available online. Inquire with Truffletopia online to purchase fresh truffles.

Foraging For A Few Facts About Truffles

Did you know…

1) The thought of truffles often evokes images of chocolate. Originating from France, the little balls of rolled and dusted cocoa ganache earned the name “truffle” because they resemble the dark mushroom. 

2) Truffles are very hard to source and are only edible for a short time once harvested. 

3) The science of farming truffles can feel like a thing of magic! So many factors must coincide at one location – specific types of trees and volume growth require all the soil and environmental factors to be just so (a simplified explanation). 

4) Truffle hunters are hounds, hogs, and tourists on the hunt in destinations including Oregon, Washington, France, and Italy (and soon, Chatham County!). 

5) White truffles are generally more expensive than black truffles, and although it is more challenging to say which is better (a preference among foodies), white truffles are known to be more flavorful. 

Edible Souvenirs & Gifts

Many of our visitor businesses are closed to the public but still serve a purpose for them. Here are a few ways to celebrate our local vendors and share a taste of Chatham County: 

  • Incorporate handcrafted items into party favors for birthdays, bridal parties, or other special occasions. Customized labels are a great way to give your gift a personal touch. 
  • Include Truffletopia in gift baskets for welcoming new homeowners and businesses. 
  • Curate a line of products featuring Truffletopia and other local artisan goods for the chefs and foodies in your life. 
  • Truffletopia products make great gifts for friends and family who prefer food products to a bottle of wine.
  • Include Truffletopia products as part of the kitchen items in your Airbnb. 
  • Enjoy Truffletopia as an edible souvenir after you visit Chatham County. 
  • Their products also make great corporate gifts! 

Chatham County is known for farms, farmers markets, and agricultural businesses. Adding Truffletopia to the mix has been a rewarding work in progress, and we look forward to a time when Truffletopia offers tours to our guests. Shares Tony, “We want to make Truffletopia an agritourism destination. Our vision is to have farm tours to include an educational piece for people interested in truffles and the agricultural side of it, and we also want to have truffle hunts, where people can experience a day in the life of a truffle hunter.” For now, though, we’ll indulge in truffle dishes prepared by ourselves (amateurs) and acclaimed chefs. 

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