Utilising Products Rooted in The Freshness of The Season – Milko Mihaylov of Truffles Restaurant Kilkenny
As one of Kilkenny’s newest eateries, Truffles Restaurant & Wine Bar has already established itself as one of the city’s most popular among locals and tourists alike.
With owner-manager Milko Mihaylov and Chef Lukasz Glab at the helm, this elegant fine-dining restaurant and wine bar is “Rooted in the Freshness of the Season”.
Fresh from his Bord Bia Just Ask Restaurant of the Month Award, I sat down with Milko and we delved deeper into the roots of the restaurant’s ethos and their focus on using the best of Irish produce, something which earned him the award in the first place.
Speaking about his journey from Bulgaria to Kilkenny and opening his own restaurant, Milko said: “Truffles Restaurant and Wine Bar is really the culmination of my wife and co-owner, Zori, and my own life’s work. We are originally from Bulgaria, where we worked and owned our own beachside restaurant and bar. She and I both worked on different cruise ships that sailed internationally.”
He added: “On the ships, you’re serving customers from all over the world. It helped us both learn so much about what people from every walk of life want from their food and dining experience. With over 20 years of hospitality experience, we knew that Truffles would be where we could showcase all that we’d learned over the years to bring excellence to every customer.”
It’s clear that seeking out the right suppliers are paramount for Milko and the team at Truffles restaurant, but do the diners care where their food comes from, or does it make a difference at all?
“We live in a time where people are far more involved with their food, both at home and when they go to dine at a restaurant. They want to know that their food is fresh and how it’s being sourced. They want to know their food is being obtained as ethically and healthily as possible. For example, we have our certified chemical free mixed leaves, microgreens, and herbs supplied by Edmundburry Greens Farm in Durrow, Co. Laois.”
For many customers, knowing the food’s source is not only enhancing their experience, it’s a point of pride. Kilkenny has many wonderful producers and our customers want to support them.
Truffles tries to include a number of local suppliers in their dishes, with Milko saying: “Our producers are listed both on our menu and website. It’s vital to any restaurant to build strong connections with their suppliers.”
When you have that connection, you know you’re getting the absolute best of their product. They know you’re going to continue your patronage and promote their hard work in your dishes. At the end of the day, we’re all small business owners and we need to support each other.
Deciding which producers are the right fit for a restaurant can be a daunting task, but Milko has a mantra he follows:
“‘Rooted in the Freshness of the Season’ is what we live by in the restaurant, so we let that be our guide with the producers. We want to buy all we can locally to make up our menu. There are some products out of necessity, such as fish, that we must source outside of Kilkenny. We talk to and sample the products from different producers and find the best quality. We know our diners deserve this and we will seek it out.”
“We’re proud to have products on our menu from suppliers all across Ireland. We want to promote as many small Irish-owned businesses as possible. Farming, fishing, and raising animals are all incredibly hard jobs. We want to make sure we keep as many Irish suppliers viable as we can.”
He added: “We know that the depth of fresh ingredients rings truer on the palate. We regularly rotate dishes in and out in keeping with the season, so every dish can be as fresh as possible. Myself and our kitchen staff have really started a great working relationship with our suppliers in the short year Truffles has been open.”
“They’re absolutely essential to us and the restaurant as a whole. We have found other suppliers through local producers, so it’s great to see small business owners supporting and promoting one another. It creates better bonds and new connections for us and the producers.”
We want to provide some ingredients you won’t find in many restaurants in Kilkenny. We have duckling on our menu that is provided to us by Silver Hill Farm in Co. Monaghan. Something also very unique and special is the truffles. They’re our namesake after all! Our black truffles are supplied to us by Redmond Fine Foods in Co. Dublin.
Wondering how much of Kilkenny’s local produce appears on the menu at Truffles, I pressed Milko to reveal the names of some of his Kilkenny suppliers: “We are proud to promote several local suppliers on our menu. Fresh Irish poultry, pork, game, lamb, and beef is supplied by Pat Mullins Butchers. All fresh, seasonal vegetables are from William Deegan in Cellarstown, Co. Kilkenny.”
“Fresh seafood comes from Kish Fish Company, Co. Dublin. Vincent Grace, the owner of Riverfield Farms in Callan, Co. Kilkenny, supplies us with organic salad and rocket leaves. Our flour and grains are supplied by a 7th generation mill, by Kells Wholemeal in Bennettsbridge, Co. Kilkenny.”
I would say nearly all of our dishes contain elements of many suppliers. One example is our beautifully seared Beef Carpaccio. The beef is provided by Pat Mullins Butcher and the dressed rocket leaves are from Vincent Grace of Riverfield Farms in Callan. It’s a very simple dish that allows the quality of the ingredients to really sing on the plate.
When put on the spot, he states Pat Mullins Butcher, Silver Hill Foods and Traditional Cheese Company Limited as the three producers he couldn’t live without.
As a testament to their commitment to using Irish produce, Truffles just recently won the Bord Bia Just Ask Restaurant of the Month Award, with Milko commenting:
“It was an absolute joy for us as a whole at Truffles to win such an important recognition with the Just Ask Restaurant of the Month. This award is a wonderful way to highlight the hard work and care we put into making sure Truffles is the highest calibre restaurant possible. We feel so honored to have this award bestowed on us and expand our reach even outside of Kilkenny.”
Milko and his team aren’t planning to slow down any time soon, with big plans for the future already in motion: “It’s been such an incredible whirlwind this past year. The restaurant is busier than ever and we are so happy to see regular customers of ours weekly. We are in the planning stages of starting some new tasting events.”
Hoping to venture into new territories, Truffles are also planning to highlight vegan food, with Milko saying: “We have a large population of vegan customers and are wanting to showcase vegan food to those familiar with it and maybe those who never have and are curious. Our head chef himself is not vegan, but is constantly inventing new vegan dishes, much to the delight of our customers.”
Another tasting event will be for those who already love our meat dishes. There are so many different ways to prepare and enjoy the best of Irish meats that we’d like to share with our customers.
Truffles is a restaurant that wants their “clients to enjoy the whole experience of coming to dine with us. From a glass of wine from our carefully curated wine list to a decadent in-house made dessert, we always aim to impress.”
For more information about Truffles Restaurant & Wine Bar and their impressive list of Irish producers, visit trufflesrestaurant.ie.
Sarah has always had a great love of travel, food and photography. Following her journalism degree at DCU, she developed a passion for travel writing while living in Spain.
Named Best Break Out Travel Writer at the 2018 Travel Media Awards, Sarah loves exploring new places and sampling the local cuisine. Working with TheTaste.ie combines her love of food and travel.
A big people person, especially when it comes to hearing other people’s stories, Sarah loves interviewing chefs, food producers and more.