When lockdown hit and chef-restaurateur Shane Delia looked into delivery options for his venues, he didn't like what he found. So he decided to create his own delivery platform: Providoor. The industry-led solution gained traction with some of Melbourne's best, including Supernormal, Sunda, Maha, Flower Drum and Tipo 00, who were all quick to sign on.
Providoor has been growing steadily for six months now, and focuses on delivering premium restaurant experiences to your door. Rather than compromise the quality of meals, which risk arriving soggy and sweaty if delivered hot, each meal is prepared by a chef, then safely cold-freighted, with the finishing touches added by diners at home.
For many restaurants, Providoor has delivered a vital new income stream that will continue as a long-term player in the food delivery ecosystem. "Innovation has been key," says Scott Pickett of Estelle, Lupo and Matilda. "Shane's Providoor is a great new way to purchase a restaurant experience online to enjoy at home. Now more than ever it's important to keep supporting your local restaurants where you can as they work hard to keep their livelihoods, staff and suppliers afloat."
Chefs on Wheels
Spearheaded by Paul Baker (Botanic Gardens Restaurant), this home-delivery dining service quickly mobilised the chefs of Adelaide to deliver restaurant-quality meals to private homes, providing a much-needed new revenue stream for the city's restaurants. "The Adelaide community is so tight," says Baker. "When the chips are down, we pull together. That's why the success of Chefs on Wheels was easy."
Devised as a short-term solution, Baker soon realised the business had a long-term future, stepping away from his restaurant role permanently and enlisting fellow top chef Emma McCaskill (Sparkke at the Whitmore) to join him full-time.
LuMi home dining
LuMi's intricate dégustation may seem impossible to replicate in takeaway boxes, but that didn't stop the team from delivering some of the best takeaway meals on offer during Sydney's lockdown. Each week, chef Federico Zanellato and his team created a comforting seven-course extravaganza, inspired by the flavours and techniques for which the restaurant is famous, including its signature pork pie, Sicilian caponata, and caramelised white-chocolate cheesecake.
Vue to You
Vue de Monde's executive chef Hugh Allen fronted a series of online video masterclasses, which accompanied meal kits dubbed Vue to You. Diners joined in the fun from home, learning how to whip up hard-to-master dishes by following easy, instructional videos. This made for an experiential event that helped distract Melburnians from the drudgery of lockdown, and kept the Vue de Monde team inspired and hopeful.
"2020 was about being flexible and overcoming the toughest challenge there has maybe ever been for restaurants," says Allen. "It was remarkable to see how everyone put egos aside to help each other, from different types of businesses. There's never been more of a sense of community in Australian hospitality than now."
For any restaurant to survive in 2020 is a feat in itself, but to creatively thrive through the process is truly impressive. Sunda head chef Khanh Nguyen took his culinary creativity to new heights when he began playing with pastry this year, delivering all manner of inventive South East Asian mash-ups of the French classic, pâté en croûte. From mud crabs to whole chickens, there was nothing the chef didn't wrap in pastry. He even shared video masterclasses to reveal how he created each culinary showstopper.
At the same time, he launched Sunda EXP, the restaurant's own heat-and-eat-at-home offering, which included a red curry sauce-stuffed prawn toast; wagyu beef cheeks with toasted coconut and a mushroom-soy glaze; and even a playful cheeseburger roti. Many of Nguyen's staff were encouraged to start their own culinary side hustles, including sous chef Nabil Ansari, who made traditional Indian takeaway inspired by his mum's cooking. While chef de partie John Rivera launched an ice-cream business called Kariton Sorbetes, drawing on flavours from the Philippines. If that's not enough, Nguyen also made free meals for hospitality workers.
Attica at Home
With the words "Never Give Up" spray-painted on the kitchen wall, the Attica team were driven to think up all kinds of accessible and interesting delivery options. From fine dining to family meals, Ben Shewry and co. cooked up a multitude of at-home offerings, including the playful Attica Bake Shop. You can even purchase the ceramics used in the restaurant, made on-site by Attica chef and ceramicist Claire Ellis. As Melbourne's second lockdown came into effect, the Attica team partnered with Melbourne Food and Wine Festival to keep spirits lifted with a live-streamed, cook-at-home dinner party, featuring music from The Avalanches.
Atlas Dining masterclasses
Melbourne chef Charlie Carrington was a pioneer when it came to hosting online cooking classes with an accompanying meal box. Just like his restaurant Atlas Dining, which changes its menu every four months to showcase a different regional cuisine, every meal box offered a different flavour from around the globe. The destination-inspired kits fed Melbourne, while also providing a slice of much-needed escapism – via Sri Lankan egg hoppers with dhal and green coconut sambal, through to hearty German dishes of potted smoked pork hock, potato rösti and apple slaw.