The ‘Duck has popped in Melbourne (twice this week)
Okay, I have to mention it…. Heston’s Fat Duck is here ! (who can ignore the latest sensation to pop up in Melbourne ?)
I still think back to the day I met with a creative bloke doing the MasterChef pop up installation on the roof of Melbourne’s Crown Towers a couple of years ago. I’d suggested to him that “pop up has come a long way in the past few years – but surprisingly there are still people who need an explanation of the “pop up“ concept…”
“Really ? (he said)… where have they been… living in a cave ?”
Well I’d say you must’ve been back in that cave not to hear how Crown Towers have just pulled off another remarkable coup… attracting TV chef and mega personality Heston Blumenthal to open his Fat Duck pop up restaurant here in Melbourne (under the Crown roof this time). Much has been said about Mr. Blumenthal (…his risqué recipes, extreme prices, impossible waiting lists, those hideous glasses…) – and he’s certainly been attracting a lot of media attention this week (isn’t that just the aim of the game ?)
The restaurant opened on Tuesday night – feeding the first of 14,000 diners who’ll pay $525 a head (not including drinks) to work their way through 15 courses of Heston’s (eccentric) culinary creations… salmon poached in licorice, snail porridge, bacon ice cream… The Fat Duck is due to spend just 6 months in Melbourne, whilst the original ‘Duck in England undergoes a refurb – and that (apparently) earns it the “pop up” label.
The Guardian.com (Australia edition) published 3 mentions of the Fat Duck on Wednesday – including a not-so-straight article by Myf Warhurst. Ms. Warhurst is a bit of a comedian (but I suspect also a Heston fan…) – she commented on the ballot system used to select the 1 in 6+ applicants who applied for a seat – “unless you won the lucky dip you simply have no chance to go at all. Game over.” and the Fat Duck rules for dining (“…also a little on the absurd side”). The pop up tag didn’t escape Myf’s miff either – “at $525 per diner, and a sure-bet long line of clientele feasting on Heston’s delights for the entire six months, I have a feeling the Fat Duck doesn’t quite qualify as a pop-up. It’s a temporary relocation. Paid for by a huge casino conglomerate”.
I’m not sure I agree with Myf Warhurst on her challenge to the Fat Duck pop-up label. It is a unique event…has been highly anticipated and widely applauded… massive interest has been created through traditional and social media channels… it has an objective, with definitive start and end dates. All these are characteristics of good (and successful) pop ups – and Fat Duck Melbourne has used them effectively. Sure, it is a slick and overtly commercial enterprise – but that can also be a feature of great pop up.
But not so much attention was lavished on the alternative “duck” event last week… The Skinny Duck Cocktail Party was held at St. Kilda Town Hall on Friday, as a fund-raising event for under-privileged Victorians. Several high-profile (but local) chefs created “14 decadent canapés and beverages” for the measly ticket price of $120 per head – all proceeds ($130,986.95) were donated to FareShare (bringing food to the less-fortunate). And amongst the guests was the Fat Duck man himself – Heston Blumenthal !
images : Google images – Fat Duck Melbourne, Skinny Duck Melbourne
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