Nepalese Origin Italian Chef Tanka Sapkota brings the biggest White Truffle in Portugal

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– Nuno Miguel Silva

Last Friday, chef Tanka Sapkota presented in Lisbon, in the Italian restaurant ‘Come Prima’, a white truffle of 1,153 kilos, the largest ever seen in Portugal, according to the organization of the event.

Since last Friday, Lisbon has been the world capital of the truffle, having been in the capital that ‘landed’ one of the biggest white truffles in history, at least since there is documentation.

Let’s do it by steps. The white truffle is a fungus that grows underground, a kind of cousin of mushrooms, but much more exquisite and valuable, being one of the most expensive food and ingredients in the world.

They grow between 10 and 30 centimeters below the surface and the larger and more intact they are collected the more they are worth, in international auctions, as if it were jewelry or works of art.

Collected is a way of saying because there is a truffle hunt. Before, it was made with pigs, but the swine, began to refine themselves and to eat, themselves, the precious white truffles.

Hence truffle hunters have chosen to choose dogs for this special task: they must be resilient and not too tall for smell to detect this valuable fungus.

Most ‘truffle hunters’ chose the Laboto Romagnolo dogs.

By name, it is perceived that the most fertile ground known for white truffles is in Italy, mainly in Alba (Piedmont), but also in Tuscany.

Once the white truffle has arrived, it is important to say that the white truffle arrived in Lisbon by the hand and perseverance (and also by the large money) that the chef Tanka Sapkota managed to gather.

Tanka Sapkota, a ‘chef’ from Nepal who has been active in Portugal for about 18 years, specializes in the meanders of high Italian gastronomy.

And he discovered the white truffles, an unparalleled delicacy for the lovers of the most exquisite international gastronomy.

That’s why chef Tanka Sapkota was awarded the title of ‘Rider of the Truffles of Alba and the Wines of Alba’, the region where the white truffles seem to reach the summit of freshness and flavor.

This title was awarded to him by the Order of the Knights of Tartufo de Alba, the Tanka Sapkota chef being the only one in Portugal to have received this honor from this eno-gastronomic confraternity since 1967.

Last Friday, chef Tanka Sapkota presented in Lisbon, in the Italian restaurant ‘Come Prima’, a white truffle of 1,153 kilos, the largest ever seen in Portugal, according to the organization of the event.

“Since 1992, chef Tanka has been working with this magnificent product and serving it every year to his customers, which has made him a reference in the area of ​​white truffle in the country,” said a statement from the organization of this initiative.

“Receiving this diploma represents a great pride for me,” said chef Tanka Sapkota, aware of the prestige and responsibility of the prize.

“Every year I go to Alba, where I made friends and where I have a truffle hunter who can get me the freshest truffles,” he says.

Tanka Sapkota chef did not want to reveal the amount of purchase of this giant white truffle, but in 2018, the market value of this ingredient placed a truffle of 880 grams at a price of 85 thousand euros.

Anything like about 100 euros per gram, which makes the white truffle one of the most expensive ingredients on Earth.

“Since 1996 in Portugal, after having lived and worked in Germany and Italy, Tanka Sapkota fell in love and specialized in Italian gastronomy. Today, it has three restaurants in Lisbon, where it serves excellent food: Come Prima, Forno d ‘Oro and Il Mercato “, aidanta said the statement.

The same document states that “the truffle that was presented in Lisbon on November 23 is not just a truffle – not just the biggest truffle of the decade.”

“It is also the symbol of what a gastronomic product can do for a region, tourist and economic level. And that in Portugal could also be done around the iconic products of each region, “said statement said.

Or as, as the Tanka Sapkota chef pointed out in the presentation of this white truffle, “Portugal has olive oil as good as Italian, it has wines as good as the French.”

Come Prima’s white truffle menu, harmonized with national products and top Portuguese wines, can be tasted until December 8.