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Recently in Truffles Category

It's the first day of the newest city-sponsored farmers market along the riverwalk outside of the Trump Chicago hotel, 401 N. Wabash.

The market is ideal for commuters, as it's open from 11 a.m. until 7 p.m. It's the only downtown market to keep early evening hours.

The downside: It will only be held once a month this summer, on the final Thursday of each month. And Frank Brunacci, the chef at the hotel's swank Sixteen restaurant who pushed to get the market going, won't be there.

Brunacci's last day at Trump was Tuesday. He left to join his wife, Lillian, in their year-old truffle importing business, the Chefs Diamond. 3-19_Stewart_Bruno28_6.jpg

The Brunaccis, both native Aussies, are the sole importers in Chicago of Australian truffles, whose season is now (it's winter there now). They source truffles from elsewhere -- Hungarian honey truffles starting about two weeks from now, white truffles from Italy later on -- but the truffles from Down Under are the crown jewel of their business.

Brunacci might best be described as a truffle junkie. He'd already been helping his wife sell to fellow chefs while at Trump. He had a habit of bringing a cooler of truffles to events where he was cooking.

"For the last year and a half, it's like I've been simmering in a pot that's been a pressure cooker," says Brunacci, who is looking forward to spending more time with his two young kids. "Just this week, we've opened up the pressure cooker, opened it all up, and it's like a huge weight off my shoulders."

Not that he's giving himself much of a break. In the last 18 hours, Brunacci has sent out two emails about the business and background on the Australian truffle. He has plans to open a combined retail space/restaurant, similar he says to what the Petrossian caviar folks do in New York, out of which he could sell specialty, ready-to-eat products, handle distribution to restaurants and serve a single, luxe truffle menu for diners.

"Maybe I'll have a truffle booth [at the Trump farmers market] next year," he says with a laugh. Maybe...

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Janet Rausa Fuller

Sun-Times Food editor Janet Rausa Fuller is always thinking about her next meal.

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