Celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal has said the cause of the health scare that forced his three-Michelin-starred restaurant the Fat Duck to close last month may have been the highly infectious norovirus.
Blumenthal, chef-proprietor of the iconic restaurant in Bray, Berkshire, was forced to close the Fat Duck for two weeks after up to 40 diners were afflicted with a mystery illness resulting in vomiting and diarrhoea. Following media coverage of the outbreak, the number of potential cases leapt to 400.
He told Australia's Hospitality magazine the cause was “categorically not food poisoning” and that “the only thing that has come up is that three staff and five customers have been tested positive for something called norovirus”.
However, Blumenthal’s spokeswoman in the UK – who had previously said earlier that reports about a norovirus were “inaccurate” - told Caterersearch that tests into the cause of the outbreak are still ongoing and so far results have not been conclusive.
Blumenthal admitted the closure had affected the restaurant in the short term, with 800 cancellations, but said future business has not been hit. The chef added that the Fat Duck’s food safety procedures were uniquely thorough.
“For the past five years we've been sending food off every month for sampling and I don't know of any other restaurant in the country that does that,” he said. “We also have a company that has been looking after our health and safety stuff for the last five years.”
By Kerstin Kühn