Italian truffle hunters on the scent of sales in Sheffield

Saverio Bruno, owner of Vero Gusto, Norfolk Row,Sheffield, buying truffles grown in Marche, Italy, by ex-Sheffielder Rachel Green's company Blue mountain Truffles. Picture: Andrew Roe
Saverio Bruno, owner of Vero Gusto, Norfolk Row,Sheffield, buying truffles grown in Marche, Italy, by ex-Sheffielder Rachel Green's company Blue mountain Truffles. Picture: Andrew Roe
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Rachel Green said ciao to Sheffield in her teens and now lives the dolce vita in Italy.

She married a truffle farmer in the hills or Umbria - and is now set on bringing Italy’s ‘black gold’ to chefs and foodies in her home city.

“Davide has had truffle land in his family for many years and he and his father sold in Italy,” says Rachel, 31, who grew up in Hunters Bar and went to High Storrs School, but moved abroad with her mum at 16.

“We are lucky - the Marche region where we live is a truffle haven. There are five varieties and many grow wild in the mountains.

“We cultivate some and Davide has a licence that allows him to gather truffles from the wild.”

After having her two children, Rachel joined forces with Davide to launch Blue Mountain Truffles and sell internationally. “We now send truffles within 24 hours of them being dug from the ground to the UK, Hong Kong and we have an importer in the US,” she says.

I take care of international sales and Davide and his father take care of the land and hunt for the truffles. He also breeds and trains truffle dogs. Pigs are not used in Italy anymore as they are too greedy and they destroy the land.

“Our dogs are the core to our business, without them we could not gather. Davide can spot a good truffle dog right away, The best breeds are the Italian Lagotto Romangolo, Springer Spaniels and Pointers.

“The best way to train them is to always greet the young dogs with truffles in our hands and to give as rewards dog biscuits mixed with shavings of fresh truffle.

“Some trainers put truffle butter or oil on the nipples of the breast-feeding mother, but we find that this makes the puppies more likely to eat what they find when they are grown truffle hounds.”

Rachel has developed sales to high end restaurants and distributors in London but is keen to bring them to Yorkshire.

On a visit home to see her fire-fighter and author brother Joe Moorwood in February, she came armed with truffles and got orders from renowned city centre Italian restaurant Vero Gusto and the Porter Brook Deli.

“I’m convinced there are lots more places that would like to use fresh truffles and will be back in June when the summer truffle season starts,” she promises.

“Truffle prices vary every year, depending on the amount found. Our top truffle is the Precious White, the most prized truffle and is very difficult to find, which last winter was priced at up to £1,800 per kg.

“We also gather the black truffle, which grows in red soil here in Marche in Umbria, and we are now in the Bianchetto truffle season.”

Restaurants and homeowners can buy truffles by emailing Rachel@bluemountaintruffles.com. Delivery costs £20.