The regional health inspector said the woman's autopsy must first be completed before her cause of death can be determined.

By Rachel DeSantis
February 21, 2019

One woman has died and nearly two dozen people have reportedly fallen ill after dining at a Michelin-starred restaurant in Spain.

Maria Jesus Fernandez Calvo, 46, was celebrating her husband’s birthday with their son at the RiFF restaurant in Valencia Saturday, where she ordered a rice and morchella fungi dish, according to The Telegraph.

She soon started suffering reported bouts of vomiting and diarrhea, and died early Sunday at her home.

Spanish newspaper El Pais reports that Calvo’s husband and young son suffered “mild” symptoms as well, though they have since recovered.

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The three join 21 other people who claim to have fallen ill after dining at the eatery, according to the outlet.

Regional health chief Ana Barceló confirmed the woman’s death to El Pais, and said a primary inspection of RiFF found things to be “normal.”

“The samples that have been collected over the last few days have been sent to the National Toxicology Institute to be analyzed,” she said Wednesday.

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Barceló noted 17 patrons have been interviewed, and of those, 14 reported some sort of light symptoms, including vomiting.

She stopped short of attributing Calvo’s death to the morchella mushroom she ordered, and said autopsy results would have to come through before a cause of death could be determined.

The morchella mushroom, a French delicacy, must be cooked properly before being consumed because it contains toxins.

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RiFF will remain closed as the investigation continues, owner and head chef Bernd H. Knoller said in a statement.

The chef said he is cooperating fully with the health department, and hopes to soon establish a clearer picture of what happened to the sickened patrons.

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“Regardless of the reason that may have caused this situation, I want to convey my deep regret for what happened, hoping that soon all these facts can be clarified,” he said, noting that initial inspections determined that the restaurant was not in violation of any sanitary regulations.

He said on Twitter that two dinners with Austrian chef Richard Rauch as part of the Valencia Culinary Festival scheduled for Feb. 26 and 27 have been canceled.

RiFF is praised by the Michelin guide as being a place that serves “the highest quality, seasonal, local products to create successful culinary combinations and interesting set menus.”

Knoller opened the restaurant in 2001, and it received its Michelin star in 2009.

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