Poor old Heston Blumenthal; one moment he’s the king of the culinary world, running one of the UK’s only three-Michelin star restaurants that regularly appears in the top five of the World’s Best Restaurants listing…and the next moment, 400 diners have been taken ill with a mysterious virus and The Fat Duck is closed for business, indefinitely by the looks of things right now. No news has been published on their website and Heston’s PR agency is being somewhat evasive.
Has he been concentrating too much on his television career and let things slip at The Fat Duck? That’s unlikely, and certainly not something that would cause 400 diners to become ill. In fact, I believe this mass illness from such a prestigious restaurant is unprecedented. Sure, I’ve dined in the odd London restaurant and come away with a healthy dose of food poisoning, but you don’t expect this from one of the world’s most celebrated chefs. And one can imagine how baffled, shocked and upset he must be.
Still, his restaurant may be closed for the time being, but at least we have his wonderful television series to watch; Heston’s Feasts on Channel 4. Somewhat ironically timed you might think, but so long as he doesn’t poison anybody I don’t think it’ll do his reputation any damage, quite the opposite in fact. The last episode was based around a Victorian feast taking inspiration from some of the odd concoctions found in Alice in Wonderland, including a remarkable pink drink that had different layers of flavour, from roast turkey to strawberry. This time he’s going medieval on our ass, so to speak, and I’m greatly looking forward to seeing what he comes up with.
Heston’s Feast airs every Tuesday at 9pm on Channel 4, and is also available to watch online. Heston’s Fat Duck remains closed until further notice. Let’s hope he’s back in business soon; not because I care about funding his gas guzzling M5, but because his restaurant is one of the UK’s greatest culinary gems, and an inspiration to us all.
UPDATE 13.03: The Fat Duck is now open again. It is still unclear what the cause of the illness was, but it has been declared safe for dining.