ABOUT AMERICAN TRUFFLE COMPANY®
The American Truffle Company® (ATC) was founded to offer client partners a much more reliable and predictable truffle cultivation process based entirely on top-notch science and continuing research. The methodology, recommendations and expertise we bring include every aspect of truffle cultivation, harvest and distribution, from soil chemistry to irrigation, from orchard and tree management to truffle sales and from truffle dog training to harvesting. The customary truffle cultivation method of trial-and-error without rigorous scientific basis accounts for the extremely high failure rates of truffle orchards. ATC also organizes and presents the annual Napa Truffle Festival, the premier truffle event in North America now in its second decade.
CHIEF TRUFFLE OFFICER & MANAGING DIRECTOR
Robert brings his technical training (Stanford University: B.S. in Electrical Engineering and minor in Biology, M.S. in Electrical Engineering and qualified for the Ph.D. program) to continually push the scientific envelope in truffle cultivation. He also uses his experience and knowledge in technology and engineering to help ATC client-partners design and implement electronic monitoring systems, moisture-sensing irrigation systems, drainage system and environmental monitoring systems – all central to the collection of data and fine-tuning of truffle cultivation methodology.
Distribution of truffles produced is a major component of truffle cultivation, in fact, it’s as important as the scientific knowledge and data used to actually grow the truffles themselves. For this, Robert brings extensive experience in sales, marketing and business development from his days in Silicon Valley, which he applies to developing long-term relationships with significant truffle users nationwide, including leading chefs and specialty markets. On behalf of all client-partners, Robert is building brand recognition and relationships with leading chefs and truffle end users, central in the successful distribution of truffles produced by ATC’s client-partners. Based in the San Francisco Bay Area, Robert also holds an MBA from Stanford University Graduate School of Business and is a foodie who loves to cook.
Prof. Paul Thomas
In addition to his role as Chief Scientist with American Truffle Company®, Prof. Paul Thomas is also the lead researcher and managing director of Mycorrhizal Systems Ltd. in the UK. Being absolutely passionate about truffles and the understanding of their biology, he is recognized worldwide as an expert on the cultivation of truffles and has actively engaged in many areas of truffle research. Prof. Thomas received his Bachelor of Science with honors in Natural Environmental Science from the University of Sheffield (England), followed by a doctoral dissertation focusing on long distance signaling pathways within the plant kingdom, which is central in truffle cultivation. Having published throughout the course of his study, Prof. Thomas quickly earned his Ph.D. from the University of Sheffield.
Towards the end of his doctoral studies, Prof. Thomas was awarded a university grant to commercialize the technology developed during his time at Sheffield and enhance a new system he pioneered to inoculate trees with numerous truffle species. Having actively researched European truffles since 2001, he has built a solid reputation and developed what is now the world’s largest and most diverse range of truffle research sites worldwide. Spanning four continents and a range of climatic and edaphic (soil) zones, the results from these ongoing sites have changed and challenged our understanding of truffles and their biology. Since 2020, Prof. Thomas has been appointed an Honorary Professor with the University of Stirling (UK), the highest academic honor possible.
On the celebrity side, Prof. Thomas’ was the winning business proposal on BBC’s Dragon’s Den program (the forerunner of ABC’s Shark Tank program), for which he was awarded an investment grant. He has since appeared regularly on TV and radio programs. Numerous publications, including the Wall Street Journal and Financial Times, have written about his work.
There are few other people worldwide who can claim to have such a diverse and informed understanding of the truffle fungus as Prof. Thomas. The majority of this research is kept out of the public domain and used solely to help client-partner truffle farmers, but choice findings have been offered at numerous international conferences, and papers are currently being prepared for publication that challenge and aid our understanding of the relationship between truffles and their symbionts.