Dinner by Heston Blumenthal — the Melbourne restaurant that has Heston Blumenthal’s name on the door for branding purposes but is not owned by Heston Blumenthal at all — has appointed liquidators. The Sydney Morning Herald reports that the restaurant has appointed BRI Ferrier to manage the restaurant’s affairs, with “the power to hire and discharge employees, discontinue the business and make arrangements with creditors.”
This development follows another Sydney Morning Herald report from 2018, which detailed both the routing of the restaurant’s management through the tax havens of Isle of Man and Nevis, and the serial underpayment of staff at the Melbourne restaurant. Despite government manoeuvres to the contrary, wage theft is not a crime under Australian law, and employees underpaid by restaurants are usually forced to resort to civil action to claim any backpay.
At present, the restaurant is operating at normal, with Blumenthal’s team keen to establish that Tipsy Cake’s operation of Dinner by Heston is under license: “Heston Blumenthal does not own the restaurant which operates under a licence to Tipsy Cake. He has had no ownership of any restaurant business anywhere in the world since 2006.” This includes the two-Michelin-starred Dinner by Heston in London, whose meat fruit is one of the dishes of the decade and whose brand earns clout from Blumenthal’s molecular exploits on TV and renown at the three-Michelin-starred Fat Duck in Bray — and likely loses it when he spouts nonsense about women in kitchens. Chef Ashley Palmer-Watts is the one truly at the helm, with a new menu inspired by the food of Pompeii soon to debut, but the chef has now announced his departure after 20 years with Blumenthal.
More soon on the Melbourne restaurant’s long-term future.