Crown dumps Heston and hails new UK star restaurateur

Crown Resorts has moved to terminate the lease of its troubled Dinner by Heston restaurant in Melbourne – as its Sydney casino unveils another celebrity UK chef offering.

Liquidators were appointed before Christmas for the scandal-plagued Melbourne restaurant, named after British celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal, after owner Tipsy Cake Pty Ltd missed a Fair Work Ombudsman deadline to pay back staff millions of dollars in underpayments.

The ombudsman moved in after a Sunday Age investigation revealed chefs at the Southbank eatery regularly worked 25 hours of unpaid overtime a week, meaning they were paid as little as $15 to $17 an hour.

But as the Melbourne casino deals with the fallout of its disastrous Heston experiment, Crown Sydney has announced the UK’s only female Michelin two-star winner, Clare Smyth, will open a restaurant at the Pyrmont casino in February 2021.

Clare Smyth. Image: Food Story Media Ltd

Smyth has trained in Alain Ducasse’s Le Louis XV in Monaco and worked under Gordon Ramsay for 13 years where she was Chef Patron before opening Core by Clare Smyth in Notting Hill, London.

Smyth has been named The World’s Best Female Chef by The World’s 50 Best Restaurants and Core is the first restaurant to have ever entered The Good Food Guide with a perfect score of ten out of ten.

Her London restaurant places an emphasis on natural, sustainable food, sourced from local farmers and food producers, something she says she is excited to replicate in Australia.

“Crown Sydney is creating a world-class dining destination for the city, and I am thrilled to have my first Australian restaurant in this amazing location overlooking one of the most beautiful sites in the world,” she said.

“With this new restaurant I wish to build upon the success of Core. Having lived and travelled in Australia early on in my career, it feels like a home away from home and the perfect location for the restaurant,” Smyth said.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports the move to terminate the lease for Dinner by Heston is a blow to employees who had hoped Crown would financially support the restaurant to keep it open.

“While this is disappointing, Crown is working to provide assistance to Tipsy Cake employees looking for employment within Crown,” a Crown spokesperson said.

Tipsy Cake is based on the Caribbean island of Nevis, making its financial situation hard to ascertain.

The company says Blumenthal sold his shareholding more than a decade ago but remained its chef patron and “integral’’ to its operation.

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