Heston Blumenthal's Fat Duck closes over food poisoning scare
Source of Article: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/foodanddrink/foodanddrinknews/4863948/Heston-Blumenthals-Fat-Duck-closes-over-food-poisoning-scare.html
The Fat Duck, the Michelin-starred restaurant run by renowned chef Heston Blumenthal, has closed as a result of a food poisoning scare.
Singh, Showbusiness Editor
customers have reported feeling unwell after eating at the establishment in
The Fat Duck
was crowned "the best place to eat on earth" by Restaurant magazine
in 2005 and is currently second only to
Initial tests conducted by environmental health officers and Blumenthal's own food safety consultants have come back negative, but the chef has closed the restaurant temporarily as a precaution. Reservations for the coming days have been cancelled.
restaurant closed on Tuesday and no date has been set for its reopening,
although Blumenthal said he was hopeful that the situation would be resolved
next week. He said: "I was in
"After 14 years of work, to come to the point where you have to close the restaurant is upsetting. The Fat Duck for me is very much a labour of love. We have 40-odd chefs for 40 customers. All that we try to do is give the best possible experience to our customers and we don't want anyone to feel remotely uncomfortable, let alone unwell. We put so much time and effort and work into providing the best quality we can. But I don't know what else to do but close the restaurant."
Diners who had visited the restaurant began falling in two or three weeks ago. Between 30 and 40 people have been affected.
The source of their symptoms remains a mystery, as the Fat Duck's kitchens are among the most rigorously monitored in the country. Blumenthal said: "The samples have all come back negative. It's very strange. Four or five years ago we enlisted the help of a hygiene consulting company and we routinely send samples off for analysis, as we know there can be all sorts of pitfalls in the supply chain. All our systems are checked and monitored. We have done everything in our power and I've never come across anything like this before.
"We called in the environmental health officers and they said it could be a non-specific virus which is going around. But all our staff have been tested and nothing has shown up. We have even logged the table numbers and the members of staff who served those tables, and there is no correlation. The environmental health officers have been very supportive, although obviously they are concerned."
The closure will prove costly for Blumenthal, but he insisted: "It's very financially damaging, but my first concern before anything else is the customers." All affected diners will be invited back to the restaurant for free meals, and customers with cancelled reservations will go on to a priority waiting list.
Blumenthal is often referred to as a culinary alchemist rather than a chef, creating fiendishly complicated recipes in test tubes.
The self-taught chef opened The Fat Duck in 1995. In 2004 - the same year it was awarded a third Michelin star - food and safety officers found "borderline" levels of listeria in the foie gras and expressed concern that "no core temperatures of the meat are taken". The problems were swiftly dealt with, however, and Blumenthal has since introduced stringent procedures.
The closure is unfortunately timed as Blumenthal's latest Channel 4 series, Feast, begins on Tuesday. Viewers will see him prepare frog blancmange and blackbird pie in a programme which explores food through the ages.
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