Maria Jesus Fernandez Calvo, a 46-year-old Spanish optician, lived a happy life in Valencia and could afford certain tastes on special occasions. That’s why she decided that for her husband’s 44th birthday, they would both together with their 12-year-old son to dinner at one of the most respected and exclusive places in the city.
The restaurant of German chef Bernd H. Knoller, based in Valencia 25 years ago, is renowned for its quality and boldness in experimenting with flavors, colors and smells. Not coincidentally, he was awarded a Michelin star, the most prestigious distinction in the culinary world.
The family sat down to have lunch in the Riff lounge on Saturday, February 16. They decided to order the tasting menu, which is made every day according to the best merchandise available in the market and which, according to the restaurant’s website, “reflects very well” their idea of Mediterranean cuisine without being excessively abundant “.
The menu consists of 7 steps and is accompanied by olive oil and wheat bread made with sourdough. All for 85 euros (96 dollars) that reach 130 (USD 146) if you want to accompany the dishes with the pairing of 6 glasses of different wines.
The three members of the family began with vomiting and diarrhea. Father and son managed to overcome what appeared to be minor intoxication, but Maria’s picture worsened rapidly. Already at dawn on Sunday, he made a cardiac arrest and when the ambulance of the emergency service arrived at his house, the doctors no longer managed to revive her. The woman was dead.
The Valencian health authorities immediately began an investigation. They interviewed 48 people who ate at the Riff between February 13 and 16 and 18 of them said that they suffered diarrhea and vomiting during the following 24 hours, informed the Valencian health minister, Ana Barcelo.
All the suspicions point to the morel mushroom, a very exclusive mushroom that accompanied the rice in one of the dishes, but that must be cooked with care for its characteristics. It is a delicatessen that contains toxic substances called hemolysins, so they should not be eaten raw. These toxins disappear with the heat, so once they dry and dehydrate completely, they can be used again.
“Therefore, to cook them, you have to rehydrate them with water or milk, and once the process has been completed, discard the remaining liquid. The other option to consume them with guarantees is that they are subjected to a scaling process so that the toxic substances disappear, “explains the news portal.
The restaurant is closed to the public from Sunday. Knöller has issued a statement in which he expresses his “pain” over what happened and claims to be available for investigations that determine the causes of “gastric affections” that affected his clients and that he hopes to “resume the activity with full guarantees” for the staff as for all customers. “