Martin Benn and Vicki Wild have announced that they will depart Sepia restaurant at the end of 2017 and will be moving to Melbourne to join restaurateur Chris Lucas.
Benn and Wild, who have operated the critically acclaimed three-hat Sydney restaurant for eight years, plan to open a Melbourne CBD restaurant with Lucas in 2018.
Benn and Wild, who first announced their plans to close the fine diner early last year, said “Today, we’ve announced the journey we started eight years ago will be coming to an end on 31 December 2017. We want to thank our longtime partner and friend, George Costi, for his support over the years which has allowed us to follow our dreams and achieve so much at Sepia.
“George will be retiring and will not be renewing the lease at Sussex Street, nor entering into the new Melbourne venture with us.
“Together, we will bring our Sepia story to an end on what, we hope, will be an appropriate finale worthy of such a great restaurant. This will give us a chance to thank so many people in Sydney and from around the world who have enjoyed the Sepia experience with us.
“This announcement gives our staff, who are like family, clarity for the future. Our loyal guests and friends can be assured we will be giving it our all over the remainder of the year at Sepia. We won’t be winding down, we will be dialing it up and going out with a bang.”
Benn and Wild will join Chris Lucas in Melbourne in 2018. Lucas is founder and CEO of The Lucas Group which operates restaurants such as Chin Chin, Hawker Hall, Kong, Baby and The Botanical.
In May, Lucas is set to open the Japanese-inspired Kisum at 175 Flinders Lane and will also open Chin Chin Sydney in Surry Hills’ 100 year old Griffiths Teas building in August.
Lucas said “Martin and Vicki are not only special talents but also humble and hardworking people whom I’ve enjoyed getting to know. We have so much in common when it comes to our views on hospitality and the art of building great restaurants.
“Martin has not only been referred to as the next Joel Robuchon but more importantly, in my view, is regarded here and internationally as ‘the chef’s chef’, a man who is profoundly committed to his art. With such a global profile, they could have easily headed overseas with huge offers from Hong Kong, New York or London, but I’m proud to say that they will be making Melbourne their home. Together we hope we can create, without compromise, something truly special.”