Truffle Hunting & Cooking in the Yarra Valley


I have to admit, my relationship with truffle was a bit of a slow burner. I first remember trying truffle on its own (I suspect when it was a little over ripe) and being quite overwhelmed by the flavour and taste. Since then, I have learned to appreciate the truffle in all its glory, especially after going on a truffle hunt and cooking class in the Yarra Valley recently.

We met bright and early at Locavore Studio in Lilydale, eagerly stocking up on freshly baked cinnamon doughnuts and coffee to warm up our bellies. A mini bus picked us up and after thirty minutes we arrived at Yarra Valley Truffles in Woori Yallock, owned by truffle specialist Stuart Dunbar.

Nestled in the hills of the Yarra Valley, the truffière (French for truffle orchard), was planted in early 2006 and their first truffles were harvested in 2011. Cold winters, warm summers and high rainfall of the Yarra Valley region make it beneficial to both truffle and wine production.

With Lani, Stuart’s beloved truffle dog by his side, the group was guided through the truffle orchard – lucky we had gumboots since it was rather muddy in the fields. Isn’t she the most adorable little thing?

DSC_0182 DSC_0175 DSC_0186

Stuart taught us how to distinguish unripe truffles from ripe. Usually if a truffle has only a small odour and pale centre it is unripe, while if it has too much moisture and smells “fishy” it may be overripe. A good truffle should have a rich, earthy scent.

DSC_0221 DSC_0223 DSC_0224 DSC_0227

Yarra Valley Truffle’s goal is to produce and market the highest quality truffle possible. Each truffle is dug out by hand, to ensure that each one reaches peak quality. No fertilisers or herbicides are used in this process.

DSC_0197 DSC_0199

Stuart taught us some really useful cooking tips to really enhance the truffle’s flavour. His most important tip is to use salt, to really bring out its flavour. Truffle is also great with cheese, scrambled eggs, in a risotto or my favourite – in butter!

DSC_0190 DSC_0204 DSC_0207

After a couple of hours at the farm, we were picked up by the mini bus and transported back to Locavore Studios for a truffle cooking class.

DSC_0173 DSC_0238

Chef Jessie Rae Crossley is the owner of Locavore Studios, a cooking school and patisserie located in the heart of Lilydale. She was a great host, exuding warmth and you can really tell she loves what she does. Locavore is all about keeping it local and organic – all produce is locally grown and really celebrates the uniqueness of the region.

DSC_0247 DSC_0278

This was a hands on cooking class, designed to showcase the truffle and teach us simple, yet delicious meals we can recreate at home. Jessie firstly demonstrated the method, then it was up to us to recreate the dishes at our own modern kitchen stations.

We started with a delicious truffle butter followed by a Yarra Valley Pasta teamed with truffle, parmesan and plenty of  garlic and olive oil!

DSC_0287 DSC_0289 DSC_0305 DSC_0311

The main event was a truffle roasted poisson (baby chicken) which was really simple to make. Simple place shaved pieces of truffle with slices of butter between the chicken skin and breast and roast on slices of onions with plenty of stock and a splash of sherry. The flavour of the chicken was amazing!

DSC_0268 DSC_0270 DSC_0273 DSC_0313

As you can tell, Sydney Food Lover and I had a lot of fun in the kitchen! And there’s something even more delicious about eating the food we cooked ourselves.

DSC_0297 DSC_0298 DSC_0300

For upcoming events check out the Locavore Studio and Yarra Valley Truffles websites for further information.

I was invited as a guest of Chester Communications. All views are honest and my own.



Find me on: Web



  1. Kevin
    February 23, 2017 / 6:25 am

    Hi, great article! By any chance would you happen to know what breed is Lani the truffle-hunting dog?

    • February 23, 2017 / 10:49 pm

      Thanks Kevin! It was a really great day in the valley. Lani is – Lagotto Romagnolo, an Italian breed of dog. Such a lovely dog 🙂

  2. April 12, 2023 / 3:44 am

    I don’t think the title of your article matches the content lol. Just kidding, mainly because I had some doubts after reading the article.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: