Woman dies with mushroom poisoning at a Michelin-starred restaurant

A Michelin-star dining experience turned into a nightmare in the city of Valencia, when it became the center of a food poisoning outbreak that killed one woman and poisoned 29 other diners. It was meant to be a celebratory night-out for 46-year old María Jesús Fernández Calvo, who ordered a rice and morchella fungi mushroom dish at the Michelin-star RiFF. Calvo suffered from bouts of vomiting and diarrhea and tragically died in her home the next morning. She was at RiFF with her husband and son, who also fell ill with vomiting but are now recovering, to celebrate her husband’s birthday.

Morchella fungi, also known as ‘true morels’, is considered a delicacy but is known to be poisonous if eaten raw. Authorities are now checking if ‘false morels’ – a highly poisonous Morchella-lookalike was served accidentally. An immediate inspection at the restaurant did not offer any immediate explanation for what may have happened. An autopsy is expected to be conducted to confirm if it was indeed the ingestion of the food that caused the death or if there was an existing condition.

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All of the other 29 victims of the outbreak had eaten at RiFF between February 13 and 16 have complained of similar symptoms and have since thankfully recovered.

Bernd H Knöller, the head chef and owner of RiFF, has closed the restaurant while investigations are on. The restaurant opened up 2001 and received its Michelin star in 2009. The restaurant’s Grande tasting menu offers snacks and tapas, six or seven plates and three desserts featuring luxurious ingredients include imperial caviar, black truffle and spiny lobster and is priced at €135 ($153) while the wine pairing is an additional €60 ($68).

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For diners who take great pride in picking only the finest restaurants to dine at, we hope that the restaurants are more conscious and cautious with what is being served at their tables. Our heart goes out to the Calvo family.


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Previously travel-editor and long-time resident of extravagant Dubai, Shalu is likes a dash of luxury in everything she does. While luxury travel is a weakness, she believes there is something very attractive about understated luxury. And when she’s not dreaming of pristine beaches, private jets and molecular dining, a shiny pair of Blahniks is what she lusts for.