Blumenthal shuts top eatery after virus outbreak

TV chef Heston Blumenthal has shut his gourmet London restaurant after it was hit by an outbreak of the same vomiting virus which forced him to close the Fat Duck five years ago.

The “culinary alchemist” apologised to customers at his exclusive two Michelin-starred Dinner, which will remain closed for a week after 45 diners and members of staff were infected with norovirus.

The award-winning Fat Duck, in Bray, Berkshire, closed for two weeks in 2009 following an outbreak of the winter bug that left over 500 people feeling ill.

Speaking to the Mail on Sunday, the 47-year-old said his personal experience and knowledge of the virus meant he knew that it was best to “err on the side of extreme caution”.

“I am very sorry for the inconvenience to those customers affected by cancellations,” he said.

“However, I will reopen the restaurant safe in the knowledge that we have done everything we can do to continue to strive to create the perfect environment and food for my guests to enjoy.”

A total of 24 diners and 21 members of staff were taken ill at the restaurant in the Mandarin Oriental hotel on Hyde Park, said Westminster City Council.

James Armitage, the council’s food safety manager, said: “Test results this week have shown that there has been an outbreak of norovirus at the Dinner restaurant... The operators have now temporarily closed the restaurant and we believe this is the responsible thing to do.

“Westminster City Council food safety officers have already carried out a thorough inspection of both the restaurant premises and working practices and will continue to work closely with Public Health England and the restaurant operators until the restaurant is given the all-clear. We have already asked the restaurant to improve some of its hygiene procedures — including telling staff to wash their hands more often. All the changes were made immediately.”

Opened to critical acclaim in 2011, Dinner specialises in historical English food and caters for about 1,000 customers a week. A meal for two can cost around £190 (€230).

An investigation into the Fat Duck outbreak in 2009 found that norovirus was brought into the restaurant by shellfish contaminated with human sewage.


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