It’s been five months since an unprecedented announcement dropped out of the clear blue sky: British superstar chef, Heston Blumenthal would be bringing his three-Michelin-starred restaurant, The Fat Duck, to Melbourne's Crown Casino for six months in 2015 before permanently opening Dinner by Heston in the same location.
The anticipation only intensified as Melburnians spent nearly half a year waiting for details of exactly how they were going to secure themselves one of the most coveted tables ever on offer in this city.
Today, as the man stepped out in front of anxious media at Crown, the announcement was made.
The Fat Duck Melbourne will open on February 3, 2015 and seat around 50 people. Reservations will be taken through an electronic ballot. The ballot will be open at the Fat Duck Melbourne website from 9am (Melbourne time) on Wednesday October 8, 2014 and will close at midnight (Melbourne time) on Sunday October 26, 2014.
“The Fat Duck [in the UK] gets 30,000 calls a day," Blumenthal explains of the demand. “The fairest way was to have a ballot. Everyone who gets a table will be contacted, and everyone who doesn’t get a table will also be contacted.”
Further, the people who don’t get a table will get priority booking for Dinner by Heston. There will also be a wait list, so if people are unable to use their table, it will open up to the people who missed out.
Blumenthal said that the Melbourne Fat Duck will feature something he’s never done before at any of his restaurants. There will be one “chef’s table” for four, which will basically be inside the kitchen, so guests will be able to watch their food being prepared and talk to the chefs throughout.
A seat at The Fat Duck in Melbourne will cost $525, for food only. As Blumenthal describes it, it will be 12 to 15 courses of “pure food theatre”.
The entire Fat Duck team will be brought over from Bray, Berkshire, although Blumenthal explains that he already has staff here sourcing local produce, so don't expect the menu to mirror the restaurant's UK home base.
When questioned whether he will be in Melbourne for the entire six-month run, Blumenthal says he expects to be in Melbourne for about half the run, including the first month, then the last. As he says, he has four other restaurants in the UK that need his attention, “I can’t just disappear for six months.”
At the end of the press conference, representatives from three charities – Magpie Nest, Starlight Foundation and Snowdome – were brought on stage and were each given tickets to the chef’s table, which they will be auctioning off to raise funds for their respective organisations.