Jason McKinney, Co-Founder and CEO, Truffle Shuffle, A DotCom Magazine Interview

    About Jason McKinney and Truffle Shuffle:

    My name is Jason and I am the CEO and one of the Co Founders of Truffle Shuffle! I am honored that you want to learn more about Truffle Shuffle and our mission here! First thing I want you to know is that over here, we love food!! We love food a lot!

    Jason got his start in his home state of Georgia at the Sea Island Resort as Chef de Tournant before moving to Napa and working at The French Laundry. While working as Chef de Partie and poissonnier in Yountville, Chef McKinney earned the restaurant’s award for Chef of the Year. From a family of self-starters, Jason has always had the desire to start something of his own.

    Jason McKinney (CEO), Tyler Vorce (COO), and Sarah Rundle-McKinney (President of Communications and Service) met while working together at The French Laundry. The three launched Truffle Shuffle as the honest truffle company at the end of 2018. Truffle Shuffle began with the sole mission of bringing clarity and integrity to the complex world that is truffles.

    Truffle Shuffle has come a long way since then, working with truffle-hunting families all over the world to source honest, traceable fresh truffles for passionate, Michelin-rated restaurants, and home chefs alike. Truffle Shuffle products like the Balinese Truffle Salt and Brown Butter Truffle Honey are available in stores like Whole Foods Market and online via Amazon. Be on the look out for their Sunday Live cook-along-classes!

    I had the idea for Truffle Shuffle while I was cooking at The French Laundry. It has since gone through many iterations but the core vision has always been us asking two questions: can chefs be successful in business? Is there a way to connect people through food on a global level? After leaving the French Laundry, we used to throw these lavish dinner parties for foodies and we would have everyone there ask us repeatedly about the latest cooking show, chopped challenge or Top Chef Master. The truth was that we did not really follow any of these shows as we were way too busy, but I started to watch a few and the one I really loved was Chef’s Table. Incredible cinematography, compelling storyline, and the food looked so good at the end! I used to think that what if there was a way to watch a cooking show and than eat that dish at the end. As a kid, I bought a second TV and had the Food Network playing 24/7 thinking it would help me become a great chef one day. (I am not sure if it did anything or not.)

    The first idea for Truffle Shuffle was an app that chefs could order truffles directly from the hunters and we would cut out the greedy and dishonest middlemen. We started in 2018 by sending a friend to Italy and having them ship truffles back to us and we would go directly to the Michelin star restaurants we knew were using Truffles. We would then tell them the stories about the hunters. Through a ridiculous amount of sheer hustle, we were able to break 6 figures in our first 90 days of business.

    In 2019, we wanted to launch a product line and on my honeymoon with Sarah, we met a family that had made the most amazing Balinese Salt that I brought home. Once home, we mixed in our truffles and when we tasted it, we knew we were on to something. The first thing I told Tyler was that this was how we were going to make our first million dollars (I was wrong but a little right!). We ended up landing a deal with Whole Foods and we went to work making a product and learning how to do product demos. We were supposed to get a call in the beginning of 2020 whether or not they would put Truffle Shuffle into every Whole Foods store. That call came at the end of February 2020…

    In March of 2020, we were so excited!!! We thought we had made it! We went full force making the product by hand and patiently waiting for the email with the purchase orders. Our excitement started to get a little confused with word about something called Covid-19. We told ourselves that as long as restaurants are open, they will continue to order truffles. So we order 20# of the finest black winter truffles and the day they landed, the shelter in place went into effect for California. In a matter of three days every trade show we were going to was canceled. Whole Foods called and canceled their orders and every restaurant we worked with shut down.