I truly laughed out loud this am as I read this amazing story in the Dining In section about a man named Tom Michaels, in eastern Tennessee, who armed with passion, hard work and faith seems to have accomplished the impossible….
Although unexpected, the Tennessee truffles were not unplanned. Tom Michaels, a 59-year-old plant pathologist, pianist and Scrabble tournament competitor, sprouted the hazelnut trees from seeds. He inoculated their roots with Tuber melanosporum, the Perigord truffle, before setting them in his backyard seven years ago.
He resisted dreams of a truffle bonanza as assiduously as he limed his soil and trimmed his trees. Dr. Michaels had, after all, grown up on a mushroom farm west of Chicago and had written his thesis on the difficulty of the in-vitro cultivation and growth of T. melanosporum.
He knew that millions of dollars have been lost since the 1970s in the attempt to cultivate truffles in the United States. Some of the failures were spectacular. One multimillion dollar orchard in Hext, Tex., is now being managed as a game preserve.
When, on the morning of Jan. 3, he noticed patches of the tawny Tennessee soil bubbling up like blistered asphalt in his orchard, however, Dr. Michaels lost his circumspection. “I was jumping around yelling ‘Eureka!’ ” he said. And that was before he saw the size of the bulbs, before he felt them and smelled them and tasted them, before one of his truffles had found its way into the chef Daniel Boulud’s kitchen in Manhattan, before the chef had confirmed the grower’s suspicion.
The article later manages another astonishing fact….. Dr. Michaels cultivated his soil for years before he even felt that he was ready to plant his first seed! Now he has the beginnings of a multibillion dollar business (truffles sell for $800 a lb.), doing what he LOVES! How about that for a frigging inspiring metaphor!