00:01 OK my name’s Paul T and I run a company called Mycorrhizal Systems Limited. Mycorrhizal Systems grows a type of fungus called truffles, so we set up plantations across the world to grow this fungus.
00:16 Truffles are very expensive and they don’t, in fact they don’t look too glamorous despite the expense which is attributed to them. This is a dried sample here, so it looks probably even worse than a fresh one but they’re worth typically the European species around about a thousand pounds per kilogram, our native one to the UK is worth about 280 pounds a kilo and there’s a white truffle species in Italy which is worth about 3 to 4 thousand a kilo, so it’s a high value crop.
00:40 My whole life I’ve gone out and collected foods from the wild and that included mushrooms and through going out and collecting mushrooms and reading about identifying them and cooking them, I read that truffles grew in England but I couldn’t find any, and I set about working quite hard looking for them and I couldn’t find any at all. Around about the same time I was doing a PhD and I looked at ways of growing them, so, because I was doing a PhD I had access to web of knowledge and you know all the online resources and I started to look a bit deeper into the science and then over a series, period of about 4 years developed a way to grow them.
01:16 In the media, the harvesting of truffles you see a gentleman walking out into a forest with a pig on a lead, it’s not really done like that because you’ve got to get in between the pig and the truffle, which can be quite dangerous, people lose fingers doing this, so we use trained dog. So you’re sending the dog out into the plantation, you’re letting him off the leash and he or she will run along pick up the scent line and run straight in and mark where the truffle is.
01:40 When I was at school I guess, I didn’t really know what I wanted to be, I knew I wanted to be outdoors and I wanted to do stuff with science and biology and I’ve always been fascinated by that. I can’t really pin any one person as a mentor like I’d say, definitely my parents have been strong role models in my life.
01:56 My father is an artist, so he’s always been involved in the art world lecturing, and, and producing his own art and my mother she actually did a PhD in neuro-science, but then she went into business and she set up day care nurseries, so what I actually saw from my parents from a very young age was I saw them working incredibly hard. They were structuring their business for long term gains in terms of paying off property value and such so I think that’s pretty fundamental in what I do now, cos truffles are a long term crop, once you’ve planted the tree you’ve still got 4 to 7 years before you even get your first harvest.
02:29 I’ve always been interested in plants, which again is a bit geeky for a, for a kid. I always grew plants on my window ledge and in my garden and. I didn’t bring it to the play ground, it’s not something that I’m gonna be like telling all my mates about when I’m a teenager, showing them all my plants.
02:45 In fact my grandparents had a small holding, I used to love it there and there used to be rangers who would come and do moth experiments and things at their site and I loved all that kind of stuff, so I was always fascinated by the natural world.
02:57 Biology was always just, just what I wanted to do. I’m always quite fascinated by farming, I always grow my own, lots of fruit and veg I’ve just put up a 33 foot poly tunnel which I’m filling full of all kinds of tropical fruits and very into farming and yeah, so I’d, it’s all linked to food and biology.
03:17 I find running a business is an incredibly free position to be in, you can go off and pursue goals in various different areas and basically do what you want to do, so I think I would have always done that, I’ve kind of got that in my. We’re running an event for example in America in November, truffle conference, we’re aiming to get 5 Michelin star chefs as another half to the conference, the culinary side, so we do work with chefs and I think that’s quite important.
03:41 We’ve got recipes from the Roman times. I was reading one just yesterday for dormouse and truffle soup, Roman recipe. People have been eating them for a very long time, but I don’t know who the first person was or, or why they would have found this warty golf ball thing and picked it up and eaten it. Maybe because of the scent I don’t know.
03:58 Yep, truffle mad, yeah I think that’s probably fair enough. I think that’s a fair representation.