Want a table at Heston Blumenthal's relocated The Fat Duck at Melbourne's Crown in February? You better have luck on your side, and plenty of cash.
Diners keen for a taste of Blumenthal's three Michelin-starred menu must enter an online ballot at The Fat Duck website, which runs from 9am on 8 October until midnight on 26 October. An independent third party will then choose the lucky diners, revealing the news via email on 10 November.
About 16,000 diners will get to try the tasting menu, priced at $525 (not including drinks). They can expect 12 to 16 courses over more than four hours.
Announcing the ballot system this morning, Blumenthal said he was researching local ingredients for his first venture outside the UK, but the menu would be the same as, if not better than, at The Fat Duck in Bray, which will be renovated while the staff work in Melbourne.
And in another first, Blumenthal will offer a four-seat chef's table "right next to the pass", along with the 45 seats in the restaurant.
"When you're in the kitchen, the chefs will probably just be feeding you random stuff," Blumenthal said. "You'll have that communication. That connection. That excitement. It will be four hours of food theatre. Think playful, fun."
All of Blumenthal's 70 staff will fly to Melbourne in the New Year to set up the restaurant in the former Breezes at Crown, opening for lunch and dinner from Tuesday to Saturday starting on 3 February. A statement from Crown said the last service would be 15 August, but Blumenthal said the date was not set in stone.
Blumenthal refused to reveal any details about the restaurant's design, but Crown has confirmed some pieces from the Bray restaurant would make the journey Down Under. When asked for more information, he quipped: "It will have some chairs. There will be some tables."
But the angled windows overlooking the Yarra River would be a feature, he said, "to bring the river into the room. I want the general feeling in this room to be a notch up from The Fat Duck in Bray."
Blumenthal said there wouldn't be any preference given to the thousands of people who have already contacted Crown about bookings, nor to those who register for the ballot early.
But all is not lost for those who miss out. They'll be given priority bookings at Blumenthal's Dinner by Heston restaurant, which will replace the Melbourne Fat Duck when the restaurant reopens in Bray next September.
Looking for more Melbourne dining options? Check out our list of the best restaurants in Melbourne.