Celebrity diners in the United Kingdom, including TV’s Jim Rosenthal and boxing promoter Frank Warren, are among those talking to their solicitors about taking actions against their once favorite restaurant, Fat Duck.
Rosenthal blames Fat Duck Chef Heston Blumenthal for a “pathetic response” to the Norovirus outbreak at the world-renowned Berkshire restaurant that made 500 of its mostly rich and famous patrons sick.
The uproar came after the Health Protection Agency blamed the outbreak on contaminated oysters and poor food preparation practices on the part of Fat Duck.
Blumenthal, himself a popular TV chef, has declined to compensate ill customers for their illness. In an e-mail sent to former Fat Duck diners, he blames “the winter flu bug” for the outbreak that closed the restaurant last winter.
Rosenthal, who contracted Norovirus after dining at the Fat Duck in February, told the Mail newspaper that Blumenthal “has basically attempted to re-write the HPA report and its conclusions in his favor.
“It’s pathetic and a complete PR disaster,” Rosenthal added. “There isn’t even a hint of apology.”
Warren says he is taking the Fat Duck and Blumenthal to court and “a lot of other people are too.” He said had the Fat Duck just issued an apology long ago, diners might have reacted differently.
Instead, they say, Blumenthal is attempting to blame the virus while not taking responsibility for food preparation by Fat Duck. “The message in (his) email is that it was just one of those viruses and not the responsibility of the restaurant,” said diner Debra Drake of Devon.
Also not taking any responsibility for the tainted oysters is Graham Larkin at Colchester Oyster Fishery.
He says the fishery has supplied Fat Duck for years. Oysters are removed from the Colne estuary and brought into a processing plant for filtering with clean running water for 48 hours to remove impurities.
Larkin suspects the sewage treatment plant in Colchester, which is supposed to be monitored by the environmental agency, was discharging into the Colne River.
Not knowing, the fishery was filtering oysters believed to have been collected where water conditions were good.