A TRUFFLE bought last month for a record-breaking £28,000 has gone off before its buyers could even take a nibble of it.
Top chef Andy Needham, 33, originally from Mirfield, was due to cook the rare delicacy at the exclusive Zafferano restaurant in London. But it was ruined by too many days on display and being kept too long in the restaurant's safe while the head chef was on holiday.
A syndicate of clients at the restaurant, reported to include Gwyneth Paltrow and Roman Abramovich, bought the whopping 1.9lb white Italian truffle last month.
By the time Mr Needham returned from his six-day holiday, the delicacy was ruined.
The truffle, bought by the restaurant via satellite link from an auction in the Italian village of San Miniato, has now been buried in his garden.
The restaurant has already bought £2,000 of truffle to compensate its clients who paid for the original, which could have made up to 70 of the restaurant's signature dishes.
Manager Enzo Cassini said the fungus had simply been on display for too long.
"A truffle is like a fruit and can go off very easily," he said. "The main problem was that it was left out for people to see. People came from as far as Paris to look at it.
"It was kept out for five days in a row. It was a beautiful piece of truffle and everybody wanted to see it.
"We had to show it to people as it was a big thing. Then it was left out for three or four days downstairs and by the time the chef came back it was too late."
Mr Cassini said the main thing was the truffle auction had raised money for the Duchess of York's Children in Crisis charity. He added: "We are going to buy an even bigger one next year."