Franco-Mexican chef gives new direction to Lume restaurant in South Melbourne

Experimental fine-dining restaurant Lume has named its third executive chef since the departure of co-founder and chef Shaun Quade in 2018. Diego Huerta Chabert, a 25-year-old of Mexican and French descent and a Michelin-starred pedigree, graduated from senior under leader to replace Elijah Holland.

Holland left three months ago to lead the next Loti at St Kilda, having spent two years (much of it in lockdown) at the helm of Lume, which opened in 2015.

His successor reduced the tasting from 16 courses to seven, added a la carte dishes for the first time and reduced Holland’s emphasis on wild, native and foraged ingredients.

Abalone, white beer and Baerii caviar.

Abalone, white beer and Baerii caviar. Photo: Supplied



Not that Huerta Chabert isn’t thrilled to get her hands on new products. “Half the ingredients I use I’ve never seen before,” he says. “It’s just great for a chef: it’s one of the jobs where you never stop learning.”

A dish of abalone – his first cooking of the mollusk – went through a lot of trial and error before deciding to shave it into noodle-like pieces, blanch them in a white butter sauce and serve it all with caviar Baerii from Uruguay.

Arriving in Australia in March 2020 hoping for a better work-life balance, Huerta Chabert brought with him a decade of experience in three-Michelin-star kitchens across Europe, despite his youth. Most recently he was at the Geranium in Copenhagen as chef de partie for three years.

Dry-aged Macedonian chain duck with grapes and greens.

Dry-aged Macedonian chain duck with grapes and greens. Photo: Supplied



Other new Lume dishes include three-hour smoked duck from the Macedon Ranges, which the restaurant dry-ages for two weeks; and a potato, sour cream and seaweed snack that reminds Huerta Chabert of childhood camping trips. Menus range from three-course a la carte ($130) to a seven-course tasting ($300), with a plant-based option available.

This latest promotion continues Lume’s reputation for nurturing young talent, from John Rivera, 25, who succeeded Quade, and Holland, now 29, who followed.

Open Wed-Sat 5.30pm-11.30pm.

226 Coventry Street, South Melbourne, 03 9690 0185, restaurantlume.com.au

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