When word gets out thatchef Heston Blumenthal is in town, and making an announcement at Crown Resort, you can guess what it is, but there’s still an attraction to see it live.
It was 10am at Crown Melbourne Resort and a media call was set up in the lobby – complete with a riser for the many attending photographers and videographers. When word gets out that celebrity, three-Michelin-star chef Heston Blumenthal is in town, and making an announcement at Crown Resort, you can guess what it is, but there’s still an attraction to see it live. Blumenthal takes the stage (shorter and handsomer, in case you’re wondering), clocks the crowd and evidentially finds it larger than expected, “Flipping hell, there’s quite a lot of you,” he says as an endearing aside. “I guess you’re expecting me to announce the opening of a new restaurant – I’ll come onto that in a minute, but in fact, what I’m going to announce now is the closing of a restaurant,” says Blumenthal, “I’m going to shut the Fat Duck and bring it here to Melbourne.” After a beat of silence there’s applause and even a few whoops. “It will be the furthest migration a duck of any kind, let alone a big fat duck, has ever made,” says Blumenthal. The reality is The Fat Duck is moving to Melbourne whilst the Bray site in the UK, built in 1640, is renovated. “I want to make a really important point here – it’s not a pop-up restaurant, this is not a guest chef coming over and doing a few weeks or a period of time in somebody else’s restaurant, we are going to pick up the Fat Duck, the whole team, and fly them over. We’re even going to pick up some of the bits of the restaurant – maybe the sign maybe some leather from the chairs and incorporate it into the dining space of the new Fat Duck,” insists Blumenthal. Although it may not be a pop-up of The Fat Duck, it is a temporary incarnation under that moniker and with the UK team. “The plan is at the end of the year when we close for our annual Christmas shut down the staff will go off on their Christmas break and then in January we’re all going to fly here and the plan is to open The Fat Duck here in February and then we’ll run for six months and then at the end of that, we close the duck and we return to the UK. When The Fat Duck leaves, in the same space that it occupies [in Melbourne] we’ll leave behind a permanent restaurant and that’s Dinner by Heston Blumenthal.”