By Kathy L. Collins

A love of cooking is what drives Seffner native and current Plant City resident Devin Davis, a student at The Art Institute of Tampa. Davis was recently invited to participate in a two week training in Italy and compete in a truffle-themed culinary contest. The contest challenged culinary students to create original ideas that feature truffles as a main ingredient.

Davis and his teammate, Kirsten Mathers, were one of seven finalist teams who were awarded scholarships by the Paolo Urbani Foundation. While in Italy, they recreated their truffle-themed recipes, which were judged by a jury of chefs and professionals. The team of Davis and Mathers came in second.

According to Davis, “The whole premise of the competition was to use and highlight black truffles. We made an entrée (rabbit prepared two ways) and a tasting dessert (sweet truffle soufflé). The dishes were delicious and complemented each other well. We believe that our originality gave us an edge coupled with the fact that we highlighted the unique flavor of the truffles.”

Davis said, “I really enjoyed the trip. My favorite part was going truffle hunting and spending a day at the Urbani Tartufi factory and their truffle academy.”

Davis is in his second year at The Art Institute. He is working towards a Bachelor of Arts degree in restaurant management. He hopes to one day be a chef/owner of a Tampa restaurant which focuses on fine dining and farm to table offerings.

“My love for food and cooking started at home with my mom and grandmothers. I am very blessed and attribute my abilities to God and my family who supports me in everything I do. My passion for cooking is driven by the love of food and ingredients as well as being able to share that passion of cooking for others. My philosophy on food is simple: no matter what you cook, make it deliciously and put the same amount of passion into it as if you were cooking for your family,” David said.

The Art Institute of Tampa is a branch of Miami International University of Art and Design and is located at 4401 N. Himes Ave. in Tampa. For more information, visit

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