Heston Blumenthal has shut his London restaurant after it was struck by an outbreak of a vomiting virus.
The “culinary alchemist” apologised to customers at the exclusive two-Michelin-starred Dinner at the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park Hotel, which is expected to remain closed for a week after 24 diners and 21 members of staff were taken ill.
The same bug forced the chef to close the award-winning Fat Duck, in Bray, Berkshire, in 2009.
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.”
Opened in 2011, the restaurant specialises in historical English food and caters for about 1,000 customers a week.A meal for two can cost about £190, and signature dishes include the Meat Fruit recipe from 1500 – a chicken liver mousse made to look like a mandarin orange.
James Armitage, Westminster City 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... the restaurant operators until the restaurant is given the all-clear. We have already asked the restaurant to improve some of its hygiene procedures.”
The Fat Duck was closed for two weeks in 2009 following an outbreak of the winter bug that left more than 500 people feeling sick.