This October we celebrate 15 years in business as the Truffle Man!
15 years since we moved our young family from Montpellier in the South of France to Brisbane.
15 years of lessons learned.
15 years of memories.
How it started
We literally started our business with 2kgs of truffles we imported directly from the truffière where we used to get truffles for our own use. Neither of us had experience in the food and beverage industry, but Philippe had years of strong business experience, having left his corporate job for a sea change in Australia.
What we did have was a shared loved of good food and wine, and an appreciation of the producer-to-plate experience and the enthusiasm to share the ‘French’ dining experience with our Australian friends.
Leading into the Christmas season, Philippe really missed truffles. He asked a few chefs at restaurants that we went to why they didn’t have truffles on the menu and they said it was hard to get fresh ones in Brisbane – most of the imported stock came into Sydney or Melbourne, and by the time they came into Brisbane they were already past their best.
Philippe asked them if he was able to get it into Brisbane, would they be interested? “Of course!” was the universal response. He arranged a trial shipment of 2kgs, stopped off at the Courier Mail to ask to show them to the food editor who came into the room and said ‘Oh, The Truffle Man is here!’. The rest is history!
We gradually added to our catalogue, always trying to find the best quality products from smaller producers who were passionate about their products. Finding the best quality comes with a premium, but we soon found out that customers were prepared to pay for quality.
Changing of the Guard
After about 5 years, what had started as simply a hobby business that kept Philippe busy a couple of days a week turned into a full-blown business. At the same time, his work consulting in the corporate space had increased. However, our youngest child had started school, so it was a natural progression that I would step in and run the business myself.
Soon the chefs around town were calling me ’The Truffle Lady’. People have asked over the years why we didn’t just change the business name, but it was already established, and it is our history. Philippe will always be ‘The Truffle Man’, even if he only makes the occasional special guest appearance at events!
Highlights over the years
One of the biggest highlights for me was when we started doing events in 2013 and decided to host our first ‘The Truffle Lady presents…’ Truffle & Wine Dinner at Brent’s (now 85 Miskin St). No one was doing that kind of thing at the time, but I saw it as a way to start educating the public on how truffles can be used. We both feel very strongly that education is paramount to fully appreciating a product, and this seemed like a great way to do it.
I wasn’t sure if people would book in, but very quickly the event old out to 50 people – the maximum number that we could squeeze into the space. And most exciting of all for me was the fact that celebrity chef Gabriel Gaté attended! It is Gabriel who inspired my love of cooking as a teenager and to have him at my inaugural event was beyond exciting. Luckily for me, he was in town to launch a new cookbook and had seen the publicity for the event and decided to come along. Coincidently, his series ‘Taste le Tour’ was playing on SBS at the time, and that very night the show was visiting the same region in the south of France and drinking the same cuvee as we had with one of our courses - Chateau Lancyre ‘La Rouviere’ 2010 Coteux de Languedoc, a blend of Roussane, Marssane and Viognier.
Surviving a Global PandemicWhile we love being able to offer the general public our gourmet products through our online website, our business primarily operates through wholesale supply to restaurants. The volume required for wholesale orders allows us to negotiate the best prices and make products that are usually hard to source available to the public. We could never have foreseen how a global pandemic would have affected the business. There have been many challenges over the last 18 months, but we are proud to say we are still standing strong, if a little diminished in stock, and plan to be around stronger than ever when the borders open and lockdowns end. It is testament to our wonderful retail customers and the support they have shown our business by ordering their online gourmet deliveries that we are still standing today.
To our wonderful chefs and distributors, who have been so patient with supply issues and supporting us when possible, we salute you and hope everything is back to normal very soon.
Here’s to the next 15 years!