What's in a name? A lot, actually, especially when the name in question belongs to a three Michelin-starred restaurant. Celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal is pleading with a bistro in France to change its name from The Fat Duck, which is the same moniker ascribed to the British chef's pricey UK restaurant, according to The Independent.
Jason Annetts, a former Cambridge pub owner who opened The Fat Duck in southwestern France last year, told The Times he received a letter from Blumenthal's lawyers asking him to change his restaurant's name to avoid confusion with the Michelin-starred Fat Duck (which has been open since 1995). Annetts, who said he named the restaurant in honor of his daughter's first word, 'duck,' said he wondered what threat he posed to Blumenthal's restaurant.
"With a global following and a reputation that we have worked hard to establish, it is important for everyone, but most importantly our guests, that there is no confusion," a rep for Blumenthal's Fat Duck told The Independent. Upon close examination, likelihood of confusion seems slim: The original Fat Duck takes reservations for its £255-a-head meals on an Alice in Wonderland-like adventure map website, which apparently reflects the mysterious dining experience at the restaurant itself, where menu items are given names like "Excuse me, there seems to be a rabbit in my tea." Meanwhile, Annetts' bistro features dishes such as the Fat Duck Burger for 10.95€, or a ribeye steak for 17.95€.
Annetts reportedly told The Daily Mail he had heard of Blumenthal's The Fat Duck, but thought nothing of using that name for his French restaurant given the prevalence of restaurants and pubs often having the same names in Britain. (For example, there are more than 500 pubs in the UK named Red Lion.)
Annetts says he offered to change his bistro's name to Le Fat Duckling and was rebuffed. Blumenthal's lawyers have previously issued similar notices, including one to a restaurant in Sydney, Australia, indicating that "The Fat Duck" has been trademarked.