Those of you keen to get your grubby mitts on an edible billiards table, or a seafood dish that comes with an iPod loaded with whale noises (both things that actually exist) might have found yourselves shit out of luck when the balloting system for tables at Heston Blumenthal‘s Fat Duck residency at Melbourne’s Crown Casino next year ran into that age-old problem of demand exceeding supply. And if you did miss out, you’re certainly not alone. Some 250,000 people came up short in the race to snatch up the much sought-after dining experience.
But what we’re learning now is that a good handful of people who did get allocated tables during the six month residency kind of, maybe, sort of, don’t actually exist. Like all things that are too good to be true, the balloting system has fallen victim to a group of savvy scalpers, purportedly headed up by groups of financial professionals.
A group of Melbourne-based high rollers hired an IT firm in Asia the week prior to the ballots opening – commissioning them to write a program that would allow them to bypass controls that limit how many times people could apply. As it turns out, the system used to accept ballot applications wasn’t exactly Fort Knox, and thus the group eventually gained over 50 reservations from more than 800 applications.
Though this group is moving the reservations on to friends and family at cost price, or in some cases being gifted to wealthy clients, other groups that also took advantage of the system’s flaw have been seeking nought but profit for their trickery; asking for an additional $500 on top of the $525 per head price for a seat, with the spots being sold off to a closed group of financial industry professionals.
Though Crown did actively monitor the process and discounted nearly 3,000 entries on the basis of duplication, it appears as many as 100 table reservations did fall through to table scalpers. And despite Crown stating that they are working to remove the fake bookings to ensure the process remains fair and equitable, they could well be up against it in the sense that ticket scalping laws in Victoria only cover major sporting and concert events, not restaurant bookings – meaning that, at least technically speaking, table scalping is not an illegal practise.
Still, if you were one of the lucky ones who got a table through legitimate means, then congratulations! You also now get the added smug satisfaction of being to scoff down your liquid nitrogen reindeer milk ice cream with the added bonus of knowing that you nailed that shit without having to be a devious prick.
And in which case, bloody well good for you.
Photo: Graham Denholm via Getty Images.
via Good Food.