Truffles are one of the most expensive and highly-prized delicacies in the world, but in spite of their high cost and perishability, they have a special allure and mystery. The biggest truffle ever sold was an Italian white truffle which weighed 2 pounds 13 ounces and was bought at auction by a Chinese businessman for $330,000. More affordable is the Oregon white truffle harvested in California, Oregon and Washington and sold for less than $100 for a three-ounce specimen.
Truffles are not eaten for their taste but for their aroma. Often they are the last addition to a dish with a small portion shaved on top. The heat of the food releases the aroma. The reason white truffles are so expensive is because they lack an outer shell, meaning they are exposed to the elements. Truffles are almost impossible to cultivate, which is what makes them so rare.
There are truffle connoisseurs who keep their truffle recipes a secret, and others who choose to share them. Chefs Jason McKinney and Tyler Vorce (who have worked in Michelin Star restaurants including The French Laundry in Yountville, California) always incorporate truffles into their dishes. Sarah Rundle-McKinney (who worked front of house at The French Laundry) shares the two chefs’ love of truffles.
All three were in such awe of how a dish made with fresh truffles and a few simple ingredients could create a special dining memory that they launched Truffle Shuffle to provide the finest fresh truffle products. Truffle Shuffle does more than make truffle products; it donates a portion of profits to “1% For The Planet,” with the hope of solving the world’s problems, one truffle at a time.
“A truffle is truly one of the only ingredients that people have once, and the memory is one they fondly hold onto for their entire life,” says Rundle-McKinney. “You can talk to someone who had truffles 25 years ago at a trattoria in Italy, and they still remember it as though it was yesterday. We wanted to build a company based on something that can have that level of impact on people’s lives.”
Truffle Shuffle has launched a shelf-stable product line starting with Balinese Truffle Salt and Brown Butter Truffle Honey which can be found at Whole Foods, Amazon, and a few other retailers. They are also planning to bring out a White Cheddar Truffle Kettle Corn.
When Covid-19 hit, the trio adjusted their business by launching an online cooking class for Truffle Risotto. They sold kits with pre-measured ingredients including fresh Spanish black truffles and a wooden truffle shaver. The kits sold out immediately, including 20 pounds of truffles.
With the pandemic continuing, the online classes are ongoing. Truffle Shuffle ships the ingredient kits a couple days before classes and hosts a public Zoom class each Sunday at 2 and 4 PST. Chefs Tyler and Jason offer step by step guidance along with some humor and tales of the kitchen. When the class is over, participants have not only enjoyed a delicious dinner but have also helped out-of-work chefs.
In addition, Truffle Shuffle gives private classes to smaller groups and companies, donating a meal to a frontline healthcare worker for every class kit sold. To date, Truffle Shuffle has had 12,000 participants and has donated almost 6,000 meals along with weekly kit donations to smaller local charities. Last month, Truffle Shuffle donated 10% of their profits to the NAACP.
Go ahead – take a Zoom class with Truffle Shuffle and learn not only how to make an irresistible delicacy, but you’ll have helped those in need during Covid-19.