restaurant reopens after food scare
Source of Article: http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5h1AzwNVWRaMRTRaKp7qfAeolCV8wD96SJFK00
By JILL LAWLESS – 48
LONDON (AP) — Lovers
of snail porridge, mustard ice cream and jelly of quail, rejoice.
famous restaurant reopened Thursday, more than two weeks after it shut
due to a mysterious outbreak of sickness that left 400 people reporting
bouts of vomiting and diarrhea.
That kind of bad
publicity could kill an ordinary restaurant. But the Fat Duck and its
chef Heston Blumenthal — a science-loving gastronaut who has brought
concoctions like bacon-and-egg ice cream to popular attention — are
anything but ordinary.
Blumenthal is the only U.K. chef who is, on a worldwide level, of any
interest as a chef," said Richard Harden, co-editor of Harden's
"My hunch is
the 'no such thing as bad publicity' aspect of this will outweigh any
Blumenthal shut the
Fat Duck voluntarily on Feb. 24 and called in health inspectors, after 40
diners reported getting a stomach bug after eating there. Some 400 people
eventually complained of falling ill in cases stretching back to late
Protection Agency said it had examined the restaurant's kitchen, food,
staff and sick patrons but still hadn't identified a single source for
the outbreak. It said its investigation was likely to take several more
But it said
preliminary findings suggested it was safe to reopen the restaurant,
which has agreed to comply with health inspectors' recommendations. The
agency did not reveal what the recommendations were because of the
The Fat Duck said it
was open, and fully booked, for Thursday lunch. Blumenthal said he was
are still awaiting outstanding test results we cannot comment further,
but obviously we are overjoyed to be able to get back to business as
normal," he said.
emeritus professor of bacteriology at the University of Aberdeen, said
the diners' symptoms could have a wide range of causes — food-borne or
airborne, bacteria such as salmonella or a virus like the "winter
He said that unless
investigators had been able to take samples from sick diners while they
were still ill, the cause of the outbreak might remain a mystery.
the bug from some of the people who ate there, one is left casting
about" for an explanation, said Pennington, author of the book
"When Food Kills." "Which is unfortunate for Heston
Blumenthal because it leaves an element of uncertainty hanging over it,
even if the place is perfectly run, which I suspect it is."
One of only three
British restaurants awarded the Michelin food guide's top three-star
rating, the Fat Duck has collected superlatives since it opened in 1995
in the genteel riverside village of Bray, 30 miles (50 kilometers) west
of London. In 2005, the modest 40-seat establishment inside a
17th-century cottage was named the best place in the world to eat by
Blumenthal, 42, has been called a "culinary alchemist," and is
a leading proponent, along with Spain's Ferran Adria, of a brand of
cooking known as molecular gastronomy. Some of Blumenthal's recipes sound
more like chemistry experiments. The Fat Duck's 130 pound ($180) tasting
menu includes "nitro-green tea and lime mousse," "salmon
poached in licorice gel" and "roast foie gras
He is one of
Britain's best-known chefs, with a genial mad-scientist image cultivated
in books like the massive "Big Fat Duck Cookbook" — which
weighs in at almost 6 kilograms (13 pounds) — and a series of television
Feasts," currently running on Britain's Channel 4, shows Blumenthal
exploring food from different eras. Wednesday's program had him
recreating a medieval feast, complete with lampreys, blackbird pie and
For now, there are
few signs the outbreak has hurt the chef's high-flying career.
out that any restaurant meal is a calculated risk, and said he'd gladly
eat at the Fat Duck.
"The place has
been gone through with a fine-toothed comb," he said. "I would
be very happy to eat there."
On the Net: http://www.fatduck.co.uk