When and why did you become interested in truffles?
I’ve been fascinated by truffles since I visited my family in Egypt as a teen, where I was mystified by the ancient myth that truffles only grew where lightening had struck. This started a lifelong obsession with hunting for and cooking with the elusive truffle.
Travelling around Europe in my corporate job, I began spending as much time as I could searching for truffles with local hunters in France and Italy. The incredible excitement of the truffle hunt and incomparable aroma and flavour of black and white truffles only fueled my obsession, and inspired me to leave behind my corporate career and dedicate my life to truffles.
I knew I was onto something special when I took my fresh truffles to top chefs and they were overwhelmed by the quality, freshness and aroma and began to use our truffles in their Michelin-Starred restaurants.
What is the most rewarding part of the business?
The amazing people we meet and the relationships we’ve built. I am a social butterfly myself. But also, seeing those mouthwatering recipes being created from scratch: from the cultivation of the truffles, to the truffle hunts, handpicking the truffles, and processing the truffles and other ingredients into amazing products for all our truffle lovers. It’s a dream!
What are some of the difficulties you face in this industry and how do you overcome them?
We have set a remarkably high bar for ourselves with the superiority and consistency of our quality and deliciousness of our produce. It takes a great deal of effort to remain consistent in launching new products and sourcing the best truffles. But we really love what we do and we work hard as a team and play hard as well; we are patient, share ideas and are always ahead of the curve. We trust one another – that is the key, trust.
Provenance is also a major headache: everyone claims provenance yet they source from traders all the time which causes an unpleasant chain reaction of false claims. The volumes being promoted publicly simply cannot be sourced directly from growers, that’s a fact. Just like the fact that the majority of white truffles come from Serbia and Hungary, but get repacked as ‘Alba’ or Istrian’ truffles and sold on to distributors. Provenance is very important to us, it is a major part of our quality guarantee. We mitigate those risks with patience: building relationships with small-batch producers from early stages and grow our business with them. The result can be seen in the quality of our truffles.
Can you give details on the products you procure, produce and sell?
We currently source three types of fresh truffles: Black Winter Truffle (Tuber Melanosporum Vitt.); White Truffle (Tuber Magnatum Pico) and Honey Truffles. The latter is a rapidly growing business for us.
Our signature truffle ingredients are the White Truffle Maple Syrup, White Truffle Clarified Butter, Truffle Juice and the Black Truffle & Porcini Paste.
From where do you source your truffles and produce your truffle ingredients?
- Black Winter Truffles from eastern Spain and Chile
- White Truffles from Marche in Italy
- Honey Truffles from Hungary
Trubel’s truffle ingredients (AKA products) are made for us in small batches by a specialist producer in Marche, who we’ve selected for their long-standing experience with truffles, their attention to detail, and their efforts to reduce wastage. All recipes are our own, inspired by our travels.
Do you use any preservatives in your products?
Never. No preservatives or artificial colours in any of our truffle ingredients.
How can one go about buying or trying your products?
You can buy our whole range through our online shop. The future of Trubel is direct to customer; we are eager to have a direct relationship with every Trubeler.
You can also have our truffles at many top restaurants – from one- to two- and three-Michelin-Starred restaurants across the UK, and soon North America and Asia.
We also run exclusive truffle supper clubs and tastings where Trubelers can try decadent recipes with our products like the Truffle Canadian Old Fashioned with our White Truffle Maple Syrup and the Truffle Béarnaise Sauce with our White Truffle Clarified Butter.
Tell us more about your supper clubs?
Unfortunately, these are very exclusive so we cannot publicly share details. However, people can sign up to our newsletter on our website and learn more about Trubel’s truffle experiences.
What do you look for when sourcing/selecting your truffles to ensure maximum taste and quality?
Caring for the truffle is at the heart of Trubel’s ethos. All Trubel’s truffles are sourced direct from our partners in Europe and South America, hand-picked when they are at their absolute best. We look for quality and not quantity. Hence, we decided to source from Chile and not Australia. Chilean truffles are top-notch.
We are meticulous about sourcing and the traceability and provenance of our truffles and other ingredients. We work directly with individual producers and regularly visit the trufferies to guarantee the freshness and quality of our produce, and to ensure the producer is paid a fair price. These dedicated individuals and their truffle-hunting dogs are not just suppliers, but our partners and friends.
How do you maintain quality and freshness when transporting your products?
We take genuine care of our truffles and other ingredients to ensure exceptional quality and flavours. To maintain their freshness and quality, truffles are washed minutes before packing to preserve the water content. They are then sealed in special food-grade, insulated boxes and transported by air in temperature-controlled containers. We source one to two times a week in small batches and our customers are pleasantly surprised.
What sets your products and service apart from other similar ones on the market?
Simple – there are no similar products on the market. Trubel is what is commonly known as a challenger brand; we have a very different mindset than incumbents; we’ve established a niche for ourselves by creating unique artisan truffle ingredients and sourcing the best truffles available, wherever they are. We do not compete with any other companies as we pursue quality and not quantity. Truffles are a luxury food, the more you source the lower your attention to detail and hence, the quality of your product.
The freshness and quality of all the ingredients we use and our creativity separates us; and by quality we mean the finest and not necessarily the most expensive. The bottom line is, we source the best truffles and create bloody delicious products.
What are your marketing and PR plans?
Trubel is a brand that is ingredient focused, our product is our marketing. We invest our resources and 70% of our time hunting for the best truffles and on new product development. Thankfully, word of mouth remains a magical way of marketing; we get approached almost every other day by media for features. In fact, this interview was set up through our relationship with a three-Michelin-Star restaurant, so our strategy seems to be working. Our fast-growing market share also speaks for itself.
What’s your favorite way to consume the different truffles and products you sell?
I prefer fresh truffles grated or shaved on a simple pasta, creamy gelato or an egg dish. Honey truffles are fantastic on ice cream or even scallops.
White Truffle Maple Syrup is amazing with cheeses, White Truffle Clarified Butter on a nice piece of Wagyu, and Truffle Paste with steak tartare. Lots of recipes by very talented chefs will be available on our website shortly as well.
Who has been your inspiration along your journey?
That must be my mentor, my late dad, and my backbone and support, my partner Haya. Two people who supported my decision to leave a very successful six-figure career and pursue what I’m genuinely in love with, truffles. I promised to make them both proud.
What has lockdown been like for you?
We were blessed with a beautiful baby girl just before lockdown, so lots of family time. We took some time off work and collaborated with some top chefs in the UK for a good cause, as well as developed new products. We’re always generating new ideas.