Truffles tempered prawns with Japanese mayo

From its humble start as a film and television caterer a decade ago at North Shore Studios, Truffles Fine Foods Catering and Kitchens has grown to become one of the city’s top caterers, with onsite catering at Van Dusen Gardens’ Visitor’s Centre. Truffles offers everything from elegant buffet-style meals and creative plated dinners to stylish canapé and cocktail receptions for events of all sizes.

Truffles Fine Foods interior

Their latest venture is a cafe in the heart of downtown Vancouver, offering artisanal sandwiches, salads, soups, gourmet pizza, quiche, desserts and drinks in a great location on Davie near Howe.

As owner of Truffles, Vancouver Island-born Nin Rai’s passion for the culinary world inspired him to work as a chef for well over 15 years, building his career with experience garnered at various locations throughout the island, the Lower Mainland, and abroad.

His experience as chef at the Oak Bay Marina Restaurant, Fairmont Chateau Whistler, Fairmont Airport as well as stints at Chef Bernard’s Ciao Thyme Bistro and West restaurant helped him to develop a sense of culinary creativity. Nin has also worked at France’s Moulin de Loumarin, further enhancing his skills.

Truffles Fine Foods

In 2010, Nin (recognizing yet another need and opportunity within the catering field) branched out and began catering to corporate and wedding clients. This fruitful decision to expand services coincided with the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics and saw lucrative contracts landed with both Whistler Canada House and the BC Showcase at Robson Square.

At around the same time, Nin, together with restaurant partners Lee Cooper and Paul Grunberg opened award-winning Gastown hot spot L’Abattoir.

Vancouver born and raised Executive Chef David Bell brings over 22 years of classical chef training to Truffles. A graduate of Du Brulle French Culinary Institution Program, Bell began his career with an apprenticeship at Fairmont Chateau Whistler, later working at Montreal’s Chateau Vaudreuil and L’Hermitage hotels.

Truffles Fine Foods Opening-5

A wall with a live vertical garden above lists numerous celebrities, bands, and film productions that have used Truffles’ services over the years. The interior is modern yet simple, with several window tables. A take-away section close the counter offers tiramisu and chocolate mousse in little jars as well as locally-produced lemonades, sodas, and juices. There’s a wrap-around patio just completed in time for summer.

I was invited to the opening party last week and sampled from the well-varied menu that includes several vegetarian and gluten-free options.

Truffles' Fiore de Latte Bianca panini
[Fiore de Latte Bianca panini]

A nice feature of the cafe is the choice of breads for sandwiches: ciabatta, focaccia, mini baguettes, multigrain tortillas, cranberry and pistachio heritage bread, heritage multigrain and gluten-free. The breads are supplied by a local organic bakery.

Truffles gluten-free roasted veggie sliders
[Gluten-free roasted veggie sliders]

There are two house made soup varieties, two entrée salads, and four side salads made daily. Truffles takes pride in using locally-sourced ingredients. I plan on a return visit to try their turkey, apples and brie sandwich on cranberry and pistachio bread, already envisioning the flavour kick from all those amazing ingredients together.

Truffles' heirloom beet & watermelon salad Truffles' white chocolate mini cheesecakes with raspberry
[Heirloom beet & watermelon salad; White chocolate mini cheesecakes with raspberry]

The white chocolate cheesecake is incredible! Other desserts use Callebaut Belgian chocolate, seasonal fruit, and ingredients free of preservatives. As for dessert options, chocolate mousse, fruit cheesecake, and tiramisu are available daily; I noticed the display case filled with cookies, colourful macarons, tarts, muffins, croissants and danishes. Truffles Fine Foods makes for a convenient lunch spot or coffee break. Two small patios surround the building, and the café is hoping to become licenced in the near future.

The next Truffles Fine Foods cafe is set to open this summer in New West’s brand-new state-of-the-art Anvil Centre.

Truffles Fine Foods is open Monday to Friday from 7 am to 9 pm and on weekends from 8 am to 9 pm. Find them at 785 Davie Street in Vancouver.

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