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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 28 February 2015
20 THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 28 FEBRUARY 2015 Inside the Fat Duck No reservation? No worries. Neos Kosmos managed to get a seat at one of the world's most popular fine dining restaurants and spoke to the Greek manager at the helm All the way from Corfu, to Bray and now in Melbourne, Dimitri Andreas Bellos talks about managing The Fat Duck; currently the most exciting dining experience on offer ANASTASIA TSIRTSAKIS When the idea first arose about transporting Heston Blumenthal's three-Michelin-starred restaurant, The Fat Duck, from the quaint British village of Bray to Melbourne's Crown Towers, there was more than a slight suspicion that it would be a hit. What gave the English chef the tip off? "Every service we do [in Bray] has almost four tables from Australia," restaurant manager Dimitri Andreas Bellos reveals to Neos Kosmos. And so far the response has been overwhelmingly positive. "People here in Australia are very relaxed, they're not in a rush, so we can enjoy it with them," he says. Boasting an impressive resume, Bellos was raised in Corfu between the family home and family restaurant The Grape Vine. Venturing abroad at the tender age of 17 to broaden his horizons would see Bellos promoted to an entirely different calibre of restaurant. Offering to manage a hotel restaurant in Dublin led him down an exciting path to London, where he managed Marcus Wareing's Michelin-starred restaurant The Berkeley for five consecutive years. However, an opportunity to work at The Fat Duck was one too exciting to pass up, and after just one year working under Heston, he now finds himself in Australia. "Heston is an amazing chef with an extraordinary mind," he says. "He is a great role model and I consider myself very fortunate to be part of his team." To give foodies an equal opportunity to secure a reservation, requests were taken through an electronic ballot system that ran from 8 October to 26 October 2014. If you were one of the lucky ones, that's great news - if not, unless there's a cancellation, you'd best start saving for that flight to Bray now. In Melbourne for six months, the Fat Duck will cater to an estimated 16,000 patrons, each paying a minimum of $525 - not inclusive of drinks. A hefty price to pay you say? At first you might think so; however, upon closer inspection you might have a change of heart. Those granted the opportunity will have one of the world's renowned chefs preparing their food, resembling a cross between a science experiment and art. Presented with the original menu of The Fat Duck - a 15-course meal that takes a minimum of four hours to consume and made from only the finest produce on offer, patrons will be served by the original cohort of staff who have been flown to Melbourne to be housed at the Crown Towers for the duration of their stay. Break down all the costs involved, and the price tag to eat at one of the best establishments in a world-first relocation down under seems to make more sense. "Dining at The Fat Duck is much more than just food. It is a multi-sensory experience, a journey for the senses," Bellos says. "Our aim is to help you create an experience that will last for many years to come. Memories to take with you anywhere you go." Although the luxurious and elegant Crown setting is what one would expect for such an eatery, this is far from what the staff are used to in Bray. "When you arrive, you're thinking 'is this the right place?'. It's very understated DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM Botrytis cinerea plays with the many flavours of sweet wine. PHOTOS: ANGELA COSTANZO Stunning presentation for a single, perfect mouthful of aerated beetroot. The Fat Duck’s Greek manager because it's all about the food," he says. It's no secret that Melbourne over the years has built a reputation for its impressive food and beverage scene, an aspect of the city that has Bellos and the staff particularly excited. "There are too many restaurants; my list is getting bigger by the day! So far the food scene hasn't disappointed me. Great ingredients and some really stylish venues. I'm looking forward to many tasty meals to come." he says. And it's not just the food that has had an impact on the team. Working alongside Melbourne coffee roasters Proud Mary, Bellos has been impressed by the level of knowledge people in this city hold about their drink of choice. Once the six-month stint draws to a close, The Fat Duck will be relocated back to Bray, where the establishment is currently undergoing renovations. In its place will remain a part of Heston's magic, with his eatery Dinner. Though quite different to the 15-course meal currently being enjoyed by patrons, it's still a very exciting prospect for all lovers of food. Having worked in the Greek family restaurant for many years, perhaps there's a chance of Bellos eventually bringing some Greek influence to Heston's creations. "I wouldn't dream of it!" he says with a laugh.
21 February 2015
7 March 2015