A sitting duck?
Precisely the opposite. Blumenthal has announced plans to pack up his restaurant, the Fat Duck and temporarily relocate it to Australia for six months next year. In an expansion of the gastronome’s, shall we say, distinctive culinary brand, he will uproot the three-Michelin-starred eatery from its current location in the village of Bray, Berkshire, in February and move to Melbourne’s sprawling Crown Casino complex.
Do they have a penchant for snail porridge Down Under?
Let’s hope so. Blumenthal, 47, confirmed that the Fat Duck’s £195 tasting menu, which includes such gastronomic delights as liquorice-poached salmon and bacon-and-egg ice-cream, would be offered to the Aussies. “It’s somewhere between 12 and 18 courses. It is four hours of eating and it is pure, total theatre – like falling down a rabbit hole into a wonderland,” Blumenthal said.
Talk about extravagant!
Blumenthal is not one for half-measures: the relocation has been two years in the making. The new restaurant will seat about 45 people and have a staff of 70. “This is not a pop-up restaurant,” the chef insisted. “We are going to pick up the Fat Duck, the whole team, and fly them over [to Australia].”
Be honest. Has Heston run out of people to poison in the UK?
Come on, now, that’s a little below the belt. The Fat Duck opened in 1995 and helped to pioneer “molecular gastronomy”, utilising gels, enzymes, liquid nitrogen and non-traditional techniques such as dehydration and vacuum cooking. Unfortunately, the restaurant made headlines for all the wrong reasons in 2009. It had to close for two weeks after more than 500 Fat Duck diners fell ill with a vomiting bug.
So what does the future hold for the Fat Duck?
Though it will only be enjoying a short stint in Australia in its Fat Duck guise, the Melbourne restaurant will be rebranded as Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, the London version of which has two Michelin stars and was voted the world’s seventh-best restaurant last year. Fortunately, for more cautious gourmands, the antipodean eatery is helpfully situated within a complex which, as well as housing three hotels, spas and a casino, also plays host to more than 30 restaurants, including a branch of KFC, which should at least ensure palates across the spectrum are catered for.