A flambéed beef stroganoff is believed to be the cause of a fire that swept through the five-star Randolph Hotel in Oxford.
Flames quickly spread to the first floor and the roof after the fire at the luxury 150-year-old hotel in Beaumont Street broke out, on Friday 17 April.
Manager Michael Grange said early inquiries pointed to "perhaps too much cognac in a saucepan" being the cause.
More than 80 people were evacuated, but no one was injured.
Assistant chief fire officer, Simon Furlong, said the initial kitchen fire was quickly put out but not before it had spread to first floor office areas. "It appears it spread to the first floor and then jumped outside the building in a chimney effect," he said.
"There was a three-sided external gap and it jumped up to the roof area. It was fairly lucky it didn't get in to the internal workings of the hotel. It's a very rare occurrence, which I believe saved part of the hotel."