Vic’s Meat is a wholesale butcher that supplies produce to about 600 Aussie venues, including around three quarters of the top 100 restaurants in the country.

It's based in Sydney, but its Melbourne clients include Vue de Monde, Stokehouse and Scott Pickett’s Matilda and Estelle. In Sydney the list is just as impressive: Bennelong; Quay; hospo giant Merivale; Matt Moran’s Chiswick; and Qantas.

When coronavirus hit, as Vic’s Meat owner and fifth-generation butcher Anthony Puharich eloquently puts it, “They fucking shut overnight.”

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It was a catastrophic turn of events for a supplier that has a mountain of stock at all times – about 250,000 to 300,000 kilograms. “It was like the tap had turned off. It was crazy how quickly it happened,” says Puharich. “It just ground to an absolute standstill.

“On the back of complete chaos and panic we thought, ‘What are we going to do to keep the wheels turning and move 300 tonnes of stock?’”

The solution is Vic’s Meat Direct, an online butcher that launched in Sydney earlier this month and started delivering in Melbourne on Monday. It’s selling all the basics – sausages, mince, bacon, chicken, hamburger patties and more – as well as produce that was previously exclusive to high-end restaurants. That means us regular punters can now get our hands on some of the best beef in the world to cook at home.

“We’re selling cuts of Rangers Valley, Blackmore Wagyu and O’Connor Angus – the three greatest beef ranges in the country, and the greatest brands in the world when it comes to beef,” Puharich says.

Also available: Kurobuta pork from prized Berkshire pigs reared in northern NSW, and Wagyu bresaola. “We didn’t invent bresaola [air-dried beef] of course, but we were the first company to make it using Wagyu, and Wagyu from Blackmore,” explains Puharich.

Next week, Vic’s Meat Direct will introduce more products, including those available at Puharich’s boutique Woollahra butcher, Victor Churchill. (The late Anthony Bourdain was a fan, calling it “the most beautiful butcher in the world”. He also wrote the foreword to Puharich’s book.)

One of Sydney’s most famous cuts of meat – the 200-day dry-aged steak cooked over flames at Lennox Hastie’s Firedoor – was a Puharich invention. It even had a cameo in the steak episode in the second season of David Chang’s Ugly Delicious. It'll be in the online store by the end of the week.

And the price? “Are you sitting down?” he asks. “It’s $130 a kilogram.”

A serve at Firedoor will set you back $150, but Puharich stresses that restaurants aren’t ripping people off with their pricing. “Restaurants run with such low margins ... You have to cook it, set the table, you have to wash up, you have to do it all.”

Beyond the high-profile products that are (understandably) appealing to online customers, Puharich is excited about the more interesting secondary cuts now available: Wagyu hanger tenders, flank, bavette and brisket.

One expert tip: you don’t need Hastie-level skills to cook the fancier meats. “With really quality meat you have to be really fucking bad to stuff it up. Things like Blackmore steak have a higher threshold ... it’s just really great no matter [what].”