Here Comes Truffle

A teenager trades in truffles


Demographers may describe him as part of the Internet Generation, but 18-year-old truffle dealer Ian Purkayastha is actually the offspring of another late-20th-century revolution—the foodie movement. Before he was old enough to drive, Purkayastha discovered a passion for truffles and started his own company, Tartufi Unlimited, to sell the fiendishly expensive European fungi in his hometown of Fayetteville, Arkansas. Starting with local chefs, he built a multistate network of clients, many of whom had no idea they were buying from a kid. In 2009 major Italian truffle producer P.A.Q. Gubbio asked Purkayastha to handle its U.S. distribution, and soon the teenager was packing his bags for the Big Apple. “Ian did such a great job that we decided to open a proper warehouse in New York and have him manage it,” says P.A.Q. Gubbio proprietor Emanuele Musini. Purkayastha deferred college in order to spend this truffle season as the company’s sales manager, and he has brought in new clients including Per Se, Daniel, and Jean Georges. Ask him how it’s going, and Purkayastha’s response sounds like the fulfillment of a gourmand’s childhood daydream. “I’m smothered by truffles every day,” he says.