Rare Ingredient Raises Nearly $200k in Charity Auction

A massive white truffle weighing 900g caused a bidding frenzy and sold for just over $170,000 at auction.

The top truffle went to Umberto Bombana of Hong Kong, where it will become a prized ingredient at the restaurant 8 1/2 Otto e Mezzo.

The auction took place in Piedmont, northern Italy, during the International Alba White Truffle Fair.

Held at Castle Grinzane Cavour, the prize truffle was bid on by truffle fanciers in Dubai, Singapore and Moscow. The charity sale went to Bombana, who paid $188 per gram of truffle.

One of the most expensive ingredients in the world, the white truffle, or Tuber Magnatum Pico, is only found in a few parts of southern Europe.

Its rarity stems from the difficulty of locating the mushrooms which grow underground and cannot be farmed, unlike black truffles. They must be rooted out by highly-trained truffle hunting dogs or pigs.

While the white truffle is expensive on its own, the auction drove bids higher as all proceeds went to the Hong Kong charity Mother's Choice.

Each year, Piedmont is flooded with around 100,000 mushroom loving visitors from all over the world for the festival, which ends 5 December.

This year's auction raised over $780,000 for the charity, according to the organisers.