Providoor changed the game for home-delivered meals. Restaurant meal delivery services have been around since the 1980s, with some of the bigger players entering the fray in the 2000s and 2010s. Services like Deliveroo and Uber Eats rely on “contractors” who zoom or, sometimes, pedal between the restaurant or its dark kitchen and the customer. The meals are collected hot but, tragically often, delivered tepid or even cold.
The Providoor concept changed all that. Introduced during Melbourne’s 2020 COVID lockdown, it delivers partly prepared meals from high-end restaurants with instructions for finishing the cooking at home. In 2021, as New South Wales suffered through a prolonged lockdown of its own, Providoor expanded to Sydney.
The idea was developed by Melbourne chef Shane Delia, who owns Middle-Eastern style establishmentsMaha, Maha East and Maha Bar. It started as a way to deliver food from his own restaurants without involving a middle-man and was soon expanded to include top Melbourne eateries like Flower Drum, Sunda, Tipo 00, Movida and Supernormal.
Providoor spans the gap between services like Hello Fresh, where you have to do all the cooking yourself, and UberEats where food is delivered ready to eat. It’s not a unique concept. Other restaurants, including Attica and Grossi at Home, were doing the same thing. The idea is you receive the carefully boxed items, with detailed instructions on how to complete the prep and cooking processes. The result is a restaurant-quality meal in the comfort of your own home.
Originally the service only operated within 35km of the Melbourne CBD. It outlived the lockdown. The delivery area soon expanded to include the Mornington and Bellarine Peninsulas, Gippsland, Ballarat, Bendigo and Geelong. The service delivers meals chilled by cold freight and you have to order by 4pm the day before. Restaurants are charged a 15 per cent commission and there’s a standard delivery charge of $16.50.
The Providoor service in Sydney was launched in July 2021, with many notable restaurants keen to sign up. Delia said he could see a place for Providoor long after the lockdown ended.