But its opaque structure – Nevis has been described as an ideal place to avoid tax and shelter assets – make it difficult to determine the true health of the business.
The Sunday Age/Sun-Herald revealed in December that chefs at the high-end Southbank eatery regularly worked 25 hours of unpaid overtime a week.
That pushed pay down to as little as $15 to $17 an hour, well below the minimum rates of the award, the wages safety net.
A meal for two at the restaurant can cost well in excess of $300. It is now being investigated by the Fair Work Ombudsman.
Blumenthal, a regular on TV’s MasterChef Australia, is famed for his “multi-sensory” cooking and unusual food pairings such as bacon and egg ice-cream.
The Michelin-starred UK-based The Fat Duck, the eatery for which he is best known, was voted the world’s best restaurant in 2005.
In the three years since opening in Melbourne turnover at Dinner by Heston has been more than $36 million, financial accounts show.
It reported a loss of $492,000 in 2017-18 and a shareholders deficit of more than $2 million.
Repayment of a $750,000 interest-free loan from Crown Melbourne was meant to fall due at the end of last year.
The UK-based Fat Duck Group did not respond to requests for comment.
A spokesman for Crown would not comment on the loan to Tipsy Cake nor on the allegations of underpayment of chefs by one of its marquee tenants.
Industry sources said the interest-free loan could have been used as a way to lure such a high-profile business to the casino, boosting its appeal to visitors.
The Blumenthal-fronted business has previously defended its corporate structure saying it “allows it to work efficiently in its chosen markets”.
It also said Blumenthal sold his shareholding more than a decade ago but remained its chef patron and “integral” to its operation.
Accounting experts have said the use of inter-company loans and shifting expenses to related offshore entities was a common tax avoidance tactic by multinationals.
The ownership of companies incorporated in Nevis is never disclosed so there is no way to know who is behind companies created there.
Since the wages scandal broke, Dinner by Heston has only made minor changes to its working conditions, chefs say. There were small, one-off payments earlier this year.
Its approach has been different to the Neil Perry-fronted Rockpool Dining Group which has repaid chefs an estimated up to $10 million after this publication’s investigation.
A Fair Work Ombudsman spokeswoman confirmed it was now investigating Dinner by Heston, along with Ezard/Gingerboy, Bistro Guillaume and Rockpool Dining Group.
All these high-end restaurants were exposed by the Sunday Age/Sun-Herald as underpaying workers. Bistro Guillaume, Rockpool and Dinner by Heston are all Crown tenants.
United Voice assistant secretary Ben Redford – whose Hospo Voice offshoot launched last year – said the industry was changing and employers could no longer “steal” from staff without consequences.
“We’ve now seen some of Melbourne’s top restaurants dump the salary scam, which is a pretty major shift for this industry,” he said.
“Workers have also received cheques in the mail for thousands of dollars, back-paying them for unpaid overtime.”
Mr Redford said this was about venues “trying to inoculate themselves against further scandal”. He called on Dinner by Heston to pay back staff in full and not take “half measures”.
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Ben Schneiders is an investigations reporter at The Age with a background reporting on industrial relations, business, politics and social issues. A two-time Walkley Award winner, he has been part of The Age’s investigative unit since 2015.
Royce Millar is an investigative journalist at The Age with a special interest in public policy and government decision-making.