Mexican-French chef brings new direction to Lume restaurant in South Melbourne

Lume's new head chef, Diego Huerta Chabert, brings experience at several Michelin-starred restaurants in Europe.
Lume's new head chef, Diego Huerta Chabert, brings experience at several Michelin-starred restaurants in Europe. Photo: Supplied

Experimental fine-diner Lume has appointed its third executive chef since the departure of co-founder and chef Shaun Quade in 2018. Diego Huerta Chabert, a 25-year-old with Mexican and French heritage and Michelin-starred pedigree, has graduated from senior sous chef to replace Elijah Holland.

Holland left three months ago to lead the forthcoming Loti in St Kilda, after spending two years (much of it in lockdown) heading up Lume, which opened in 2015.

His successor has scaled back the degustation from 16 courses to seven, added a la carte dining for the first time and dialled down Holland's focus on wild, native and foraged ingredients.

Abalone, beurre blanc and Baerii caviar.
Abalone, beurre blanc and Baerii caviar. Photo: Supplied

Not that Huerta Chabert isn't excited to lay his hands on new produce. "Half of the ingredients I'm using 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."

An abalone dish – his first time cooking the mollusc – went through much trial and error before he settled on shaving it into noodle-like pieces, blanching them in beurre blanc sauce, and serving the lot with Baerii caviar 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 Copenhagen's Geranium as chef de partie for three years.

Dry-aged Macedon Ranges duck with grapes and greens.
Dry-aged Macedon Ranges duck with grapes and greens. Photo: Supplied

Other new dishes at Lume 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 go from three courses a la carte ($130) to a seven-course degustation ($300), with a plant-based option available.

This latest promotion continues Lume's reputation for elevating young talent, from the 25-year-old John Rivera, who took over from Quade, and the now 29-year-old Holland who followed.

Open Wed-Sat 5.30pm-11.30pm.

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