4. Elevate Your Every Day with Truffles

Few products are as high-end as truffles. Called “the diamond of the kitchen” by French gastronome Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, truffles have been admired—and eaten—by ancient food-lovers from the Sumerians forward. A truffle, says the North American Truffle Growers’ Association, is not a mushroom. It is the spore-bearing fruit of a fungus, and is developed entirely underground.

Truffleist founder Jimmy Kunz is from a foodist-oriented family—dad Gray Kunz was a famous chef, and mom Nicole took Jimmy shopping at food meccas like Schaller & Weber. So it was natural for him to begin his food career by experimenting with truffles. He started with truffle butter, now called “Flagship Truffle Butter” and sold out on the Truffleist website. Made with a ratio of one pound of Black Winter Truffles from Périgord, France, to five pounds of fresh Kriemhild Meadow Butter from grass-fed cows in upstate Hamilton, the butter has a 17% truffle concentration, the highest on the market. He sold his butter at The Smorgasburg (a veritable “summer rock festival for food,” says the New York Times) and also propelled his Vespa all over New York to deliver his butter door-to-door to waiting customers.

He imports his truffles from the countryside of Italy, France, and Spain, and sources his base ingredients locally. His secret of success is what he calls his “collabs,” partnerships with excellent like-minded chefs, producers, and small farms. When walking the Fancy Food Show in 2014, for example, he encountered the family-owned Hudson Valley Cold-Pressed Oil booth. He tasted their “sunflower oil and was blown away by its rich body and depth of flavor.” The result is the superb Truffleist x Hudson Valley Cold Pressed Oil, which is offered in a fun-sized two-ounce bottle. Similarly, in a chat about food trends Chef Casey Corn proposed pairing truffles with “everything” seasoning, now one of Truffleist’s most successful products.

Truffles are no longer niche, says Kunz. As the web site notes, “New products, concepts, and fun flavor combinations busted open the truffle category and condiment business,” encouraging daring experiments. An example is the Truffle Hot Sauce, an amazing combination of carrots, vinegar, lime, peppers, and truffles, made with Smorgasburg pal, Dan Friebar, who created Tango Chile Sauce.

These days Truffleist continues to do the food shows—”We do really great in the Taste NY stores”—and the holiday markets as well as being featured at Whole Foods and smaller ethnic stores.