When restaurants across Australia were forced to close in March due to the coronavirus lockdown, produce suppliers and butchers were left with an unexpected glut of stock. As fifth-generation butcher and Vic’s Meat proprietor Anthony Puharich told Broadsheet in April, “They [the restaurants] fucking shut overnight. It was like the tap had turned off. It was crazy how quickly it happened.”
As a result, that produce is now available to home cooks. While it’s impossible to replicate the restaurant experience at home, you can buy the top-tier oysters and poultry (and more) that were previously only sold to Sydney’s best chefs and restaurants.
These are some of the suppliers and wholesalers that have opened their warehouses for your buying pleasure, some with drastically reduced prices. Happy buying – and eating.
This Marrickville-based wholesaler usually supplies produce to fine diners such as Firedoor and Quay, as well as airlines, cafes and pubs. During the shutdown, it’s found another way to keep operating – by opening its warehouse, selling goods online and doing delivery. The weekly Saturday warehouse sales (from 9am to 4pm) are a great opportunity to buy from some of the best producers in NSW and Australia (and Two Providores practises strict social distancing). We’re talking Bruny Island Cheese, Holy Goat Cheese, Olsson’s salt, Pialligo Estate, Pyengana Dairy, Table 181, Wholegrain Milling – the list really goes on.
Pick up fancy butter and cheese; meat; seafood; frozen goods; pantry staples (such as flour, eggs, honey, grains, olives); and native ingredients (such as lemon myrtle, boab roots and strawberry gum). As well as scoring some good-value produce, you’ll be supporting businesses that are struggling to move stock. Goods are available at both retail and wholesale volumes.
You’ll find this award-winning cheesemonger just down the street from Two Providores (which incidentally also sells Vannella). It specialises in Italian cheese (fresh and stretched-curd), so this is the place to go for burrata, mozzarella, bocconcini, fior di latte, ricotta and scamorza. Vannella has had market stalls in the past, but it’s only recently opened a coldroom at its warehouse to the public. It’s tiny (and cold) so you’ll likely to have to wait, but it’s worth it – these cheeses are rich and creamy, and elevate any meal. It’s about to extend its opening hours – starting next week, the store will be open Monday to Friday from 9am to 4pm, and Saturday 9am to 1pm. (This week it closes at 1pm.) If you can’t make it to Marrickville, Vannella delivers to the Sydney metro area on Saturdays.
In April, East 33 started selling its Sydney rock oysters direct to the public for the first time. The oysters, which are grown in various locations along the NSW coast, are available for next-day delivery every day except Sunday. Prices start at $59 for two-dozen oysters, shucked or unshucked. You can even add a shucking knife to your order ($9) and learn a new skill – it’s really easy.
Because East 33 was formed by a group of NSW oyster farmers to serve the restaurant industry more efficiently, customers can buy packs that feature oysters from different locations, from Merimbula in the south to Nambucca in the north.
“Sydney rock oysters take on the properties of their environment,” says Kali Austin, a spokesperson for the collective. “As such, their taste can vary greatly from region to region.” Some are saltier, some are sweeter, some have a rich umami taste. If you fancy trying a range, the tasting kits and Veuve Clicquot kits ($139) come with a total of 24 oysters (eight from each of East 33’s three regions).
Vic’s Meat Market
Sydney’s most famous steak (true story) is the 200-day dry-aged hunk of meat cooked over searing coals by Lennox Hastie at Surry Hills fine diner Firedoor. It’s the creation of Vic’s Meats, which has pioneered many butchering techniques. Prior to coronavirus it sold produce to about 600 venues, including 75 per cent of the top 100 restaurants in the country. While the public has always been able to shop at Vic’s Meat Market in Pyrmont and the fancy Victor Churchill shop in Woollahra, the company has now made some of its most famous, restaurant-exclusive cuts (about 300 tonnes of meat) available online at Vic’s Meat Direct – including that famous steak and produce from Rangers Valley, Blackmore Wagyu and O’Connor. (“The three greatest beef ranges in the country, and the greatest brands in the world when it comes to beef,” according to Puharich.)
Also at Vic’s Meat Direct: Kurobuta pork from prized Berkshire pigs reared in northern NSW; Wagyu bresaola (which Vic’s pioneered); sausages from LP’s Quality Meats; a pie by restaurant Lumi; and our fave, the build-your-own-burger packs. Plus, pick up sausages, lamb, cured meat, poultry and even potatoes and eggs. Vic’s is doing free delivery on orders over $125 across Sydney.
If you’ve been hankering for the spatchcock cooked over charcoal at Porteno or the chicken fricassee at Restaurant Hubert, Game Farm can help you recreate those dishes in your kitchen. This South Strathfield-based producer has been growing speciality game birds in NSW using small-scale, boutique farming methods since 1975. It also supplies to Nomad, Cho Cho San, Icebergs, Automata and Tetsuya’s.
Order the premium chicken and duck breasts from the Hawkesbury region, or the signature quail (whole or butterflied) from the Mandalong Valley. There’s a $100 food box that’s got the works. Game Farm delivers to the Sydney metro area Monday to Friday, and there’s a click-and-collect service from its store.