“Imagine being able to sit down and have a first course from Flower Drum, second course from Estelle, mains from Movida and dessert from Brunetti,” says Shane Delia. “You can have that kind of experience for a couple hundred bucks.”
When coronavirus-related restrictions were put in place at eateries around Melbourne, Delia – like so many other restaurateurs – made the switch to takeaway and delivery.
“The industry can sit here and worry that things aren’t going to be like they were, or we can pivot hard, not just to survive now, but to continue to thrive in the future,” he says.
But, not wanting to relinquish control of a dish once it left his restaurant, Delia sidestepped third-party delivery services and launched his own.
Now he’s rolling out the same model on a wider scale with Providoor. And in addition to Maha, some of Melbourne’s best restaurants – including Flower Drum, Estelle, Bar Margaux, Hazel, Supernormal, Sunda, Tipo 00, Lucy Liu and Movida – are on board.
“We asked restaurateurs to change the way they think and to create a package of food that can be finished at home so that the quality is maintained,” Delia says.
Here’s how it works: instead of ordering an hour before you want to eat, you’ll place an order a day ahead. The kitchen at your restaurant of choice will prepare your meal, cook it most of the way, allow it to cool, package it, then deliver it to you, ready to be reheated and plated.
So instead of travelling hot – and slowly deteriorating on its way to you – each meal is designed to travel. All Providoor deliveries are made by staff in refrigerated trucks.
“Essentially we’re asking the general public to finish cooking and plating the food,” Delia says. “It isn’t hot food, where it sits in someone’s backpack and gets to you in a tepid environment.”
Preparing your meal can be as simple as throwing it in a pan or heating cryovac bags in a pot of boiling water, or as involved as cooking individual (but already-prepped) elements.
“Every restaurant will have a different experience,” Delia says. “Some will really understand the opportunity to capture the customer’s imagination and provide brilliant experiences, and some will just worry about cooking delicious food.”
Providoor is a potential game changer for dinner parties, too, removing the stress of planning and preparing the menu. Instead, you’re simply – effortlessly – throwing everything together as guests arrive.
Unlike the bigger delivery platforms, which charge restaurants up to 30 per cent commission, Providoor charges its restaurant partners a flat rate of 15 per cent.
There's a grocery section, too, so you can also stock your pantry with meat, pickles and charcuterie from Meatsmith; order fruit and vegetable boxes; and get bottled Everleigh cocktails. You'll even find homewares on the site.
Next month Delia plans to add a private chef function to the platform, so restaurants can send chefs to cook and cater at people’s houses, and he's looking to expand to Sydney, too.
With social distancing measures in place, and some customers with less disposable income than before, Delia thinks the future of dining lies in bringing the restaurant experience into people’s homes.
“At the end of the day, we’re just a thread in the fabric of the Australian public and the dining scene,” he says. “We’re here to keep it together, make sure we can keep people employed, and continue to give people great experiences – whether it’s in our venues or in their home.”
Order by 4pm for next-day delivery within 35 kilometres of the CBD, excluding Sundays and public holidays. Delivery is a flat rate of $16.50 per restaurant.
This article was first published on June 1, 2020. Some details may have changed.