Moral Low Ground


Dark Day for Fine Dining: Diners at Copenhagen’s Noma Stricken with Norovirus; Fire Damages Berkeley’s Chez Panisse

Noma norovirus

It was a dark day in the world of fine dining as two of the world’s most iconic restaurants were stricken by major crises.

In Copenhagen, Denmark, Noma, widely regarded as the world’s best gourmet restaurant, 67 people have fallen ill with vomiting and diarrhea after allegedly being infected with Roskilde Sickness, a form of norovirus. According to the Copenhagen Post, Fødevarestyrelsen, the Danish equivalent of the US Food and Drug Administration, conducted an inspection of the restaurant on February 20. The inspection followed reports that dozens of Noma diners had fallen ill with norovirus after eating there between February 12-16. During that period, 63 of the 78 guests at Noma became ill after dining at the bastion of New Nordic cuisine

“There has been illness among staff who have handled the food products,” Fødevarestyrelsen’s report stated. “The inspection visit was due to guests complaining of vomiting and diarrhea.”

The Fødevarestyrelsen report criticized Noma for its failure to sanitize its kitchen in time to prevent the norovirus from spreading, as well as for lacking hot water in the taps used by staff to wash their hands. The agency issued Noma an official warning.

Meanwhile, in Berkeley, California, Chez Panisse, the cradle of California Cuisine, was badly damaged by a pre-dawn fire. The San Francisco Chronicle reports that the damage was largely limited to the building’s exterior, thanks to an effective sprinkler system. Founder and world-famous chef Alice Waters, who popularized the use of local, organic ingredients in cuisine with the opening of Chez Panisse in 1971, told the Chronicle that she was “pretty shaken” by the blaze.

Waters said that the restaurant’s upstairs cafe “can open real soon if we find a way to camouflage the front of the building.”

“I think we’ll have to put up one of those big screens that has pictures of what the restaurant looks like, like they do in Italy when they’re doing reconstruction,” she told the Chronicle.

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