Chef Mike Ford recently brought his Lowcountry cooking heritage to an international Cooking with Truffles Competition, in Soria, Spain. And although Ford – executive chef at Streamsong Resort in Bowling Green, Fla. – didn’t win as the U.S. representative in the competition, he raised some culinary eyebrows with his dish of Lowcountry scallops and black truffle grits.
“I’m originally from South Carolina, so I wanted something true to my heritage,’’ said Ford, who oversees the four outstanding restaurants at Streamsong, home to the acclaimed Red, Blue and Black golf courses. “Southern cuisine is my comfort zone.’’
Ford’s entry was more than just scallops and black truffle grits. For example, He seared the scallops in pork fat (a Southern tradition) and added a confit egg yolk in the middle of the grits. Ford added color (and flavor) to the dish with sweet corn puree and green onion gel. He finished the dish with a black truffle topping and Manchego cheese.
“It was unique,’’ he said. “Some of the (Spanish) judges weren’t familiar with grits.’’
For the record, the winning dish, which featured veal and a black truffle aroma from a squirt bottle, came from Spain, so Ford could have been the victim of, well, some home cooking.
Nevertheless, Ford left Soria more-than satisfied.
“We were there for the competition but also for education,’’ he said. “I had worked with black truffles mostly from France, so it was the first time I had – at least knowingly – worked with black truffles from Spain.
“We dug for them and learned how to harvest them and how they grow. We learned that once the truffle comes out of the ground, it immediately starts losing its characteristics, from flavor to aroma.
“I do a version of (the competition) scallop dish at one of the restaurants (P2O5). I love those flavors, so I might look at tweaking it.’’