Culinary Students Win Urbani Tartufi Truffle Competition

By: Rachel Handel Filed under: Culinary

April 14, 2016

Urbani Tartuffi truffle is considered by many to be one of the world’s foremost culinary delicacies. And now two culinarians from The International Culinary School at The Art Institute of Pittsburgh can showcase passion for this delicacy—they were recently announced as winners of the Urbani Tartufi Truffle Competition.

The competition took place in Italy in early April 2016. Student Rachel Walton, who is working toward an Associate of Science in Baking & Pastry and graduate Samantha Santti, who just completed her Associate of Science in Baking & Pastry, started their international culinary journey with a 10-day Italian cooking course at Università dei Sapori—all leading up to the truffle competition.

To get to the finals, the team had to create two dishes that prominently featured truffle—a chef’s choice (savory or sweet) and a main course. Photos and a description of each dish were reviewed by Urbani Tartufi and seven finalist teams were invited to Italy for to prepare the dishes.

The contest reflects the continuing commitment by Urbani Tartufi truffles to bring awareness to the culture of truffle and its ancient history. Urbani Tartufi is respected worldwide for representing the best in truffle sourcing and processing. Through this culinary competition, young chefs are provided the opportunity to develop and improve their professional skills while achieving sensory and emotional enrichment.

The winning creations

Walton and Santti were coached through their culinary experience by Chef Shawn Culp, culinary department chair, The Art Institute of Pittsburgh.

The culinary artists’ dishes were:

  • Duck breast with truffle mousseline forcemeat and crispy skin crust served on carrot puree with a rich duck jus, sautéed root vegetables and a twice-baked potato garnished with thinly sliced chives and minced truffle
  • Foie gras truffle ice cream on a bed of lentil and wild rice granola served beside a celery salad and garnished with a crisp and a thin slice of truffle

On April 8, 2016, a jury of chefs and other professionals from different regions of Italy selected Walton and Santti’s dishes as the grand prize winners. Now, along with the prestige of being named as competition winners, Walton and Santti may have their recipe developed as a new Urbani Tartufi product.

A culinary experience of a lifetime

“I never thought I would be where I am today in my field today, and I especially never thought I would have the chance to go to Italy,” said Walton. Walton says that her goal is to work as an executive pastry chef at a resort. The Urbani Tartufi truffle competition was a chance to hone her culinary skills. The most challenging part, she said, was creating the recipes. Santti hopes to one day own a catering company that features pastries. “It is different when the first stage of the competition is not judged on taste at all, but on photos and recipes,” she said. “That was definitely a new challenge we had to conquer.”

Congratulations to all of the finalists.

The finalist teams included:

The students from The Art Institutes are all currently working toward culinary degrees.

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By: Rachel Handel Filed under: Culinary

April 14, 2016

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