Staff allegedly underpaid at Dinner by Heston

Heston Blumenthal. Photography: Alisa Connan

Melbourne fine-diner Dinner by Heston has been accused of underpaying staff.

British chef Heston Blumenthal, the face of the restaurant, has a huge international following, especially in Australia because of his multiple appearances on MasterChef Australia. Blumenthal is also behind acclaimed restaurant outside of London, The Fat Duck.

Dinner by Heston, located in in Melbourne's Crown hotel and dining complex, is his only restaurant outside of the UK, where a meal can cost hundreds of dollars.

The Sydney Morning Herald conducted an investigation of the restaurant, which uncovered rosters that showed staff had worked up to 25 hours every week of unpaid overtime. If those hours were factored into wages, this would mean mid-level chefs were earning between $15 and $17 an hour, which is well under the legal award rates.

A Dinner by Heston spokesperson said in the SMH's report that Blumenthal had sold his shares in his business but is still "integral’’ to its operation.

Blumenthal's restaurant is owned by Tipsy Cake Pty Ltd, which is registered in the offshore tax-haven of Nevis, an island nation in the Caribbean. Tipsy Cake Pty Ltd directors are all based on the tax haven of the Isle of Man. Blumenthal's restaurants are ultimatwely owned by Lowenthal Corporation, which shares a number of its directors with Tipsy Cake Pty Ltd.

Tipsy Cake Pty Ltd also has a post office box on Nevis, which was mentioned in the Panama Papers.

While running a business through an offshore tax-haven is not illegal, an ATO spokesperson told the SMH that Nevis was on its list of “specified countries’’ where there was greater risk that transactions are “non-compliant with the law.’’