“Everyone is always so focused on how truffles can be used in ‘fine dining’,” says Chef Ken Frank of La Toque, “that we, including me, overlook some obvious opportunities. It helps, of course, that I have nearly unlimited access to truffles and zero limit to spending money when it comes to putting delicious food in my belly.” So, during Father’s Day weekend, Chef Ken put an entire shaved black truffle under the skin of a modest sized chicken before roasting it, and then put a “stupid amount” of chopped truffle on some corn that his wife Sherylle was getting ready for the grill. “Sometimes good ideas are just too simple. Anyone in America could make this if they can get fresh truffle. It’s as easy as the recipe reads. And it just kicks …” well, you get the idea.
Chef Ken Frank is the owner and executive chef of La Toque, one of Napa’s finest restaurants. He’s been the host chef for the Napa Truffle Festival since year one (2010) and is widely considered the top truffle chef of North America. He also holds the distinct honor of being the first, and so far the only, American chef invited to participate in the Fiera Internazionale Tartufo Bianco D’Alba, the world-renowned Annual White Truffle Festival in Alba, Italy. Entirely self-taught, he began his career at 16 with a dishwashing job in France and quickly worked his way through the kitchen ranks. He was the first “young American chef” on the West Coast and was the opening Chef at Michael’s in Santa Monica, considered the Los Angeles birthplace of “California Cuisine.” In 1979, he opened the original La Toque on the Sunset Strip at age 23. Young, curious and restless, he pioneered a style of cooking that has become widespread today. His early insistence on using only the finest, mostly local artisanal ingredients remains at the heart of great cooking in America. In 1998, Ken moved to Napa Valley to open a new La Toque at The Rancho Caymus Inn in Rutherford where it was named one of the 20 Best Restaurants in America by the Wine Spectator and was awarded a prestigious Michelin star. In 2008, La Toque moved to the new Westin Verasa in downtown Napa.