Best in the Kitchen
An ongoing survey by category
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Best Fine Dining Chef
Arthur Durham: La Truffe Sauvage in Lake Charles
Chef Arthur Durham admits that serving as co-owner and co-chef at La Truffe Sauvage in Lake Charles can be challenging, causing the Corpus Christi, Texas, native to wear many hats. The fine dining restaurant offers elegant dishes derived from a variety of culinary influences and accented by an elaborate wine list. But then there are the South Louisiana residents who demand more regional fare.
“People ask, ‘How do you classify your food?’” Durham says. “It’s hard to classify because there are so many influences.”
For example, La Truffe Sauvage’s menu features premium fish, and that may range from Scottish salmon to Gulf red snapper. A traditional pot-au-feu is created with meat, but the restaurant uses seafood so it resembles more of a bouillabaisse than a French stew.
“Is it exactly [a pot-au-feu]?” Durham asks. “No. But it has that influence. The menu fluctuates. And we have a lot of fun with it.”
Durham graduated with top honors from the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco, landing at the Ritz-Carlton Houston in 1992. After only a year-and-a-half on the job, he became banquet chef.
It was in Houston that Durham met chef Mohamed Chettouh, his partner in La Truffe Sauvage.
“We became friends and saw that we had the same philosophy about food,” Durham says.
They purchased the former Chez Oca in Lake Charles in 1998 and have been receiving accolades for their cuisine for 14 years.
Durham’s culinary origins hail from an Irish mother and a British grandmother, both of whom cooked “solid food extremely well,” he says. “To roast something properly, to cook it properly, that takes special skill. That’s where my love of food comes from.”
Today, Durham hopes to incorporate more locally produced foods into his cuisine. But again, he says, this can be a challenge.
“Your clientele expects something on a certain level,” he explains. “You have to balance the expectations of people to what the region produces.”
For information on La Truffe Sauvage, visit thewildtruffle.com.