There are certain stories that deserve to be remembered always; the story of Urbani Truffles is one of them.
Not only for the honor of the individuals involved, but also for the integrity of the history of the company. In a time of great difficulty and facing the challenge of traveling far distances, Urbani attempted to attain the ultimate American Dream. We speak about this today with Olga Urbani, 5th generation of Urbani Truffles, that with Carlo and Giammarco Urbani runs this truffle dynasty in Italy and the world.
How did your family begin their American adventure?
“In Italy there was no money, not even for bread, and a poor economy. The desire and ambition of my family combined with insightfulness and a strong intuition drove them to branch out to America in the beginning of the 20th century. Paul Urbani was the first to go to America. His cousin Carlo would send packages full of truffles to New York, asking Paul, ‘make the Urbani name famous, sell as much as you can! Overcome any of our competitors! The truffles of the world are called Urbani!’ Unfortunately for Paul, the reaction abroad was not instantly positive for truffles, many Americans thinking they were chocolate or ice cream. It would take much work and dedication to spread the Urbani name. It wasn’t destiny that caused my family to break away from tradition; it was the love for their work and their lives.”
Therefore the Urbani brand takes shape from its entrepreneurial DNA?
“Exactly, because what any brand needs, above all, is a foundation in which to build a communicative structure. A structure in which it is important to continue to reinvent itself constantly with new products that follow emerging needs and changing tastes. Urbani was able to accomplish this with a unique product, the truffle. I have to acknowledge that over the years my family has been quite successful in building this structure. ”
With many headquarters and products present in Europe and in America, Urbani has become highly recognized as a strong company, earned by the tenacity and foresight of the most recent generation running the company, this generation, of course, meaning you and your cousins.
“It is because of us and our collaborative motives that we take great satisfaction to know that Urbani truffles headquarters in Manhattan has become a home base for many chefs of New York City. Many pass by on the way to work to choose their own fresh truffles by hand. Urbani Manhattan has also become a warm reminder of home for any Italian tourists passing by. Urbani has brought a piece of Italian tradition not only to New York, but also to Los Angeles, Las Vegas, San Francisco and Chicago.”
Following after its abundant success in the USA, Urbani has also explored many different foreign markets with diverse gastronomic cultures: a great challenge.
“At Urbani we are constantly reinventing ourselves. We are currently working on projects all over the world including China, United Arab Emirates, Korea and Qatar. We are working to introduce new flavors into these countries, flavors that are not typical of their traditional cuisine. In order to familiarize these flavors, we are pairing them with some of the already popular dishes. For example, Truffle Sushi is one of the first products that is able to tie together successfully two very different gastronomic cultures. Truffle Soy Sauce is also becoming very popular, along with many other revolutionary culinary products, including Truffle Ketchup, Truffle Curry, Truffle Mustard, Truffle Chili, Truffle Barbeque Sauce, Salt of Guerande, Spreadable Truffle Cheeses, Truffled Balsamic Vinegar and soon, paired with Nestle’ technologies, there will be a prepared truffle dishes line.”
How do you think it will be possible to popularize these products, with such strong Italian flavor profiles, in countries that are so distant from our culture’s typical cuisine?
“We have created a strong promotional campaign, not only in Shanghai, but also in Pechino, Hong Kong, Macau and Shenzhen, all of which have all been influential networks to create a presence for Urbani in China. Urbani’s success in China will soon lead to the opening of a branch in Shanghai. Though the worldwide success is wonderful, Manhattan remains the heart of Urbani. Urbani however, will never forget its origin.”
In Umbria, a Truffle Museum has been created in memory of Cav. Paolo Urbani, your loved father, visited by patrons from all over the world.
“Yes, we very much wanted to reminisce and remember our origins, our territory and the story of hard work and sacrifice. At the entrance, amongst Shakespeare quotes about truffles, there are thousands of signatures from all that have visited. There are many meaningful artifacts that depict Urbani’s history of hard work and sacrifice, touching to see for all who visit. Amongst the many writings and letters, there is one passage that stands out the most: ‘This museum is dedicated to those who are able to innovate themselves without forgetting where they came from. It is a place of memories, the finest and dearest possessions of all, holding deep inside the hope of turning nostalgia of the past into positive energy for looking toward the future. So we will never forget.’”
Let’s come to these days, to the technology of this generation and The Truffle Academy.
“The Truffle Academy in Umbria, next to our home base, is a technological Center dedicated to gastronomy. Every day chefs, experts, journalists, schools, universities and foreigners come together to exchange their knowledge. Here new recipes, products, projects and ideas are shared. The objective is always the same: to appreciate the value of mushrooms and truffles. Urbani truly values all of the artistic and cultural contributions that come out of the Truffle Academy. In addition to the Truffle Academy, we also have, The “Paolo Urbani Foundation” for young chefs, the “Urbani Worldwide Travel and Tours” that organizes wonderful tours in the truffle world, the “International School of Truffles” situated in the protected park in the Valnerina area on the banks of the Black River, the “Truffle Association”, founded in 1960’s, that gathers famous people together in the interest of good taste, and the “White Truffle Auction” (the Urbani Family also holds the Morra Tartufalba). Many branches, many different corporations, but all with the same intention, to make known and promote the precious fruit of our earth, the truffle.”
The company colors are black and white, like the color of truffles? Is this the motive?
“We chose black and white as company colors not, in fact, to represent the truffles. White is elegant like silence, unique in magnitude in which fulfills entrepreneurial choices. It’s the moment before putting ink to paper of an important document. We like it because black and white is a strong choice, radical, without compromise, just like us. If every other color is one of many, the white is the sum of all the possible answers, much like the answers we give to our clients, it’s the clarity, the brightness behind a product, the surprise of the meeting with inventors designing new creations, dusting off old projects, and regenerating willpower. Here at this point, at the dividing line between the two colors, is our company. Here is our world. Between the time of our lives and the space of an instant.
For all of us in this family, this profession has caused a profound influence that will last even after us, creating memories, changing lives and remaining unforgettable. Singing is to silence like life is to a heartbeat and love is to tears. As Urbani is to truffles, is how we would like remain synonymous always.”