The rumors were true: over the weekend, British chef Heston Blumenthal announced that he will be opening a restaurant at the Crown resort in Melbourne, Australia. Or two restaurants, sort of. Blumenthal announced during a press conference (video below) that he would be moving his three-Michelin star Fat Duck to Melbourne for six months, after which the space will be transformed into the second location of his two-Michelin star London restaurant, Dinner by Heston Blumenthal. The Fat Duck Melbourne will mark the 20th anniversary of the original restaurant.
The entire staff of the Fat Duck — who according to Good Food were informed of this plan four hours before the big announcement — will move to Melbourne in February of 2015. While they are in Australia, the original Fat Duck in Bray, England will undergo a complete renovation. The Australian Fat Duck will serve 12 to 18 courses, all of which will be classic dishes from the restaurant.
Blumenthal called it, "The farthest migration a duck of any kind, let alone a big fat duck, has made." He is right about that; Mallards migrate the farthest of all species of ducks, on average 875 miles. Melbourne is 10,521 miles from Bray.
When the space transforms into Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, it will be the second location of that restaurant and the first internationally. Blumenthal has been teasing expanding the concept for years, and locations in the US have been rumored in the past.
Back in the UK, Blumenthal is in the process of opening the Perfectionists' Cafe at Heathrow Airport. He is not the only one transporting his restaurant overseas: René Redzepi announced he would open his Copenhagen restaurant, Noma, for two months in Tokyo next year. (For those keeping track, Noma is about 5,396 miles from Tokyo.)
Video: Heston Blumethal's Melbourne Announcement
HESTON BLUMENTHAL'S THE FAT DUCK RESTAURANT CLOSES TO MIGRATE SOUTH – DUE TO ARRIVE IN AUSTRALIA IN 2015
The first international restaurant opening for Heston Blumenthal will be his three Michelin starred The Fat Duck, which will temporarily relocate to Crown Melbourne Resort, Australia for a six month visit before returning home to the UK.
December 2014 Heston Blumenthal will close the doors of his award-winning The Fat Duck restaurant in Bray, UK and seamlessly reopen February 2015 with Crown Resorts in Melbourne, Australia. In an unprecedented move for a restaurant of such renown, Heston will take the entire Fat Duck team with him to Australia for a massive six month relocation. However, upon The Fat Duck's return to the UK after their half-year sojourn, Melbourne will not be left empty handed. In the same location as the temporary The Fat Duck at Crown Melbourne Resort, Heston and Group Executive Head Chef Ashley Palmer-Watts will open Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, securing lasting ties with Australia.
Both The Fat Duck and Dinner by Heston Blumenthal will occupy the same space in the award-winning Crown Towers hotel in Southbank, Melbourne's urban centre and cultural hub. This ground breaking culinary project will encourage diners from around the world to visit Melbourne generating extensive exposure and benefits for the city, Victoria and Australia.
The timing was serendipitous: Heston has long had a desire to open in Australia, The Fat Duck wanted to celebrate its milestone 20th anniversary in 2015 in an extraordinary fashion, the building in Bray was due for renovation, and Crown Melbourne wanted to enhance its already impressive dining offerings.
Heston comments, "This is an incredible opportunity and I am thrilled that it has worked out the way it has. The Fat Duck is part of a Grade II listed building, so I always knew there would come a time when it would need a little attention and the building itself would require a bit of modernisation – after all, it was built in 1640. I just couldn't bear the thought of closing for an extended period, though. When we first started conversations with Crown, I saw the potential of the situation and really began to hope. I couldn't have asked for a better outcome."
Crown Resorts Chairman, James Packer says, "Heston's decision to relocate The Fat Duck to our Melbourne resort is an incredible result for Crown Resorts and the Victorian tourism industry. To attract an internationally renowned chef and innovator of Heston's calibre is a reflection on Melbourne's culinary reputation and Crown's commitment to dining excellence. The relocation of the coveted restaurant will be a big boost for local tourism, attracting interstate and international guests to Melbourne so they can experience a once in a lifetime dining opportunity."
The first time Heston visited Australia was in 2003. "I fell in love with the country immediately," he states. "From that very first moment, the idea took root – someday I wanted to have a restaurant there. The restaurant scene is fantastic, the diversity exciting, and the produce incredible, but better than all of that, the people are just great fun. I love how Australian people celebrate good food; there is such a love of everything from coffee shops to gourmet restaurants and everything in between."
Whilst at Crown Melbourne Resort, The Fat Duck will offer the same magical dining experience that earned it three Michelin stars in Bray 11 years previously: the full Tasting Menu, the flawless and relaxed service, and the multi-sensory journey of history, nostalgia, emotion and memory that has made it one of the most lauded restaurants in the world. Half the world away, the building in Bray will have its interiors modernised, creating exciting new work areas – particularly in the kitchen – whilst still preserving its architectural integrity and historical context. The dining room will be refurbished as well, but the interior design will remain largely unaffected, keeping the room as the perfect stage for the dining experience as a whole.
Following The Fat Duck's return home to the UK, Dinner by Heston Blumenthal will take up residence within Crown Melbourne Resort, becoming the only restaurant the chef has in his portfolio outside of the UK. It joins ranks with The Fat Duck, Dinner by Heston Blumenthal located in London, The Hinds Head, The Crown at Bray, and The Perfectionists' Café.