Persistent Teenage Entrepreneur Sold Truffles to Fine Restaurants

(p. A19) SEATTLE — There is an industrial stretch of 37th Street in Long Island City, Queens, just off Queens Boulevard where you can walk and suddenly be hit with the most incongruous of odors: the pungent, earthy smell of truffles.
You have arrived at the nondescript warehouse of Regalis Foods, which sells fine truffles and other expensive wild foods.
Inside, the truffle smell is more intense and the work pace is on full holiday bustle.
“The week before New Year’s is our busiest of the year,” said the owner, Ian Purkayastha, 26, who started Regalis at age 19 with a cooler in a beat-up minivan. He now supplies many of the finest restaurants in Manhattan — including Eleven Madison Park and Le Bernardin — which are typically packed for New Year’s Eve.
. . .
Mr. Purkayastha grew up in Houston, and Fayetteville, Ark., where an uncle taught him how to forage for mushrooms.
A taste of truffle ravioli at age 14 began the fascination with truffles, and by 15, he was buying small shipments from Europe to sell to fine restaurants his parents would drive him to.
By 17, he moved to New York and began transporting his truffles in a cooler on wheels. He would visit upscale restaurants in Manhattan and try to convince chefs to sample his products.
The renowned restaurateur David Chang, the founder of Momofuku restaurants, recalled being impressed by the tenacity of the teen with fine products.
“He must have been 18 and he was just really persistent,” Mr. Chang said.
“The fact that he was so young was always unnerving to everyone,” he added. “But his product was extraordinary, so I trusted him to get me stuff. He continually got very high-quality products.”

For the full story, see:

Corey Kilgannon. “‘Fulfilling the Demand for New Year’s Eve Caviar, Truffle and Crab.” The New York Times (Saturday, Dec. 29, 2018): A19.

(Note: ellipsis added.)
(Note: the online version of the story has the title “Truffles, Crab and Caviar: Preparing for New Year’s at the Warehouse of Expensive Eats.” The online date is the same as the print date.)

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