Discover the three brothers behind Singapore’s best truffle chips and their journey to success.
Kenny Chan, Jonathan Chan, and Kayson Chan are the three brothers behind Aroma Truffle, the world’s strongest truffle chips. Acknowledged by raving reviews, the potato chips definitely have the strongest taste of truffle as compared to other similar chips in the market. With classy packing and delectable taste, Aroma Truffle’s chips are perfect for food lovers with exquisite tastes. Breathe in the aroma of the flavourful chips the moment you open the packet, take your first bite of the wavy cut of the chips and let the flavour of truffle explode in your mouth.
Inspired by his journey as a chef, Jonathan Chan decided to create truffle flavoured chips as he wanted to allow more people to enjoy the taste of truffle. Along with his two brothers Kenny and Kayson, Jonathan created Aroma Truffle in 2018.
“We noticed that truffle was becoming an increasingly popular flavour. Truffle is extravagant because of its extremely short shelf-life.”, said Jonathan Chan, Chef and co-founder of Aroma Truffle & Co. “I wanted to create a decadent truffle experience that is affordable, and can be enjoyed anywhere.”
The trio experimented up to 60 different recipes before perfecting it. There are many truffle species that have a different shape, sizes and taste profiles. Kayson and Jonathan spent half a year sourcing for the right truffle partners. The star ingredient, the truffles, are air-flown from their partner’s truffle farm in Spoleto, Italy. Black summer truffles were chosen for its earthy and nutty fragrance and have a rich woody aroma with flavours of garlic, wild mushroom and earthy hazelnut undertones.
Did you know? 63 species of fungi worldwide have been classified as Tuber. In Italy, there are 25, but only 9 are edible and only 6 are widely available on the market.
The truffle chips are developed and manufactured in Singapore. Aroma Truffle had their soft launch in July 2018, and in early April 2019, they finally opened their flagship store at Chinatown Point Mall.
A Little Backstory
The chef out of the three brothers, John has always been creative with his food, whether it is for his Food and Hotel Asia culinary competition or creating new dishes. Creativity never ceases for him, it is his passion and love for food that brought the brother together.
In his previous career in business development, Kayson had the chance to work with the leaders from different backgrounds, from big corporations to small businesses. He especially admires the spirit and undying perseverance of the leaders of small businesses. Unlike big corporations, small businesses are always facing limited resources and expertise, but they survive and succeed due to their ability to adapt and innovate. He has always kept in the back of his mind that he can run his own business with the knowledge and insights learnt from these leaders. When John shared his recipes with Kayson, he knew immediately that they could kick-start the gourmet snack business.
Kenny was an engineer in the marine industry. When his brothers brought up the idea of starting a business in the Food and Beverages (F&B) industries, he was instantly on board. He left his previous engineering job and is now the chief finance officer of Aroma Truffle.
Although their parents were initially worried about the fact that all three sons have left their previous jobs to start up an F&B business, both parents have been supportive of their venture, and naturally became the ‘guinea pigs’, to taste and give them feedback on the chips.
Behind The Scenes of The Development Process
While doing market research, they realised the drastic difference in the responses received by the different age groups. Majority of the people in the 18 to 45 age range were aware of the taste profile of truffles, and their feedback regarding the truffle chips was mostly positive. Most of them praised the chips, describing it as the strongest truffle chips they have even tried. This helped the brothers create the tagline: “The World’s Strongest Truffle Chips”.
People in the 45 to 65 age range were not familiar with the taste of truffles, and some of them even thought that they were tasting wasabi flavoured potato chips, as the aroma was so strong! “We giggled a bit when they remarked the wasabi chips tasted good,” chuckled Kayson.
It was through this feedback that they decided to be the pioneers to offer the strongest truffle products. If it’s not the strongest, it’s not the best.
Even the cut of the chips matter to the Chans – they specially chose wavy-cut chips – the groove and thickness create an extra crunchiness texture as compared to plain-cut potato chips. All the goodness of truffle bits, olive, herbs and seasoning are trapped in the ridges and grooves, making each bite more intensive and mind-blowing.
Similar to other startups, they faced many hurdles in the beginning. Black summer truffles are seasonal products, as its name suggests, it only grows in the summer, in Italy, France. They are not only expensive, but they are also extremely short-lived.
Truffles’ natural moisture begins to evaporate shortly after it is harvested. When not kept in optimal storage conditions, mould would grow on truffles within three to four days and the fragrance of truffles also deteriorates quickly.
Fortunately, they met a friend in the truffle business whose partners owns a truffle farm in Italy and signed an exclusive supply agreement. The brothers then spent almost five months on research and development to increase the shelf life of the truffles in different forms and finally finding the best way to preserve the truffles. Of course, the exact details are kept secret.
Another hurdle they faced was that there was a huge demand for their truffle chips but they had limited supply and were not able to fulfil the orders. For a couple of months, the chips were unavailable and they had to deal with many angry customers. Of course, a happy problem for them but they had to work even harder to meet the sudden increase in demand!
Currently, other than the two Original and Parmesan truffle chips, Aroma Truffle has two new products: Honey Mustard truffle chips, and truffle butter, which can be spread on toast or in soups! Their goal is to create an affordable range of truffle seasoning so that consumers can add a hint of excitement to their daily meals.