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Table of food thanks to Providoor
Photograph: Supplied

Try it now: Shane Delia's premium heat-and-eat delivery service Providoor

You can get heat-and-eat meals from restaurants like Cumulus Inc, Maha and Flower Drum

By Sarah Theeboom
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We may be under lockdown but that doesn’t mean we can’t eat well. Really well.

After all, we still have occasions to celebrate and a hankering for something special on a Saturday night. And we still have high-end restaurants willing to deliver to us.

But therein lies the problem. Delivery.

It’s hard to justify splurging on a fancy dinner that’s going to arrive lukewarm in a takeout container. Without the ambience and waitstaff that a restaurant provides, the enterprise seems even less worthwhile. To add insult to injury, you still have to do the dishes at the end of the night.

While there’s nothing Shane Delia (Maha, Biggie Smalls) can do about your dirty dishes, he has tried to fix the problem of a dish’s degeneration during its long journey from a restaurant kitchen to your dining table. His solution? Finish it at home.

All the meals on Providoor are ready-made but require simple heating and assembly before they can be served. While the idea of putting something in the oven for 20 minutes might seem counter to the entire convenient concept of takeaway food – i.e. not having to cook – completing the dish at home makes it possible to close the gap between what you’re eating at home and what you would have eaten at the restaurant.

“The idea first started with the launch of Maha Go [Maha Restaurant’s home delivery service] during COVID,” says Delia. “When I experienced the success and demand for Maha Go, I quickly realised that premium ready-to-finish home delivery could be a viable option for the industry, not just now but for long into the future.”

And for the restaurant, it means quality control, which is one of the reasons Providoor has been able to convince top eateries such as Flower Drum, Tipo 00, Cumulus Inc and Supernormal to get onboard. So now you can order things like squid ink tagliolini with bottarga, a whole flounder with grenobloise or confit duck cassoulet for one to six people. True, you’ll probably have to boil some water and stir some sauces. But a bottled cocktail from Ugly Duckling or The Everleigh will ease your domestic labours.

There is still the issue of plating, which is where many home cooks often fall at the final hurdle. The dishes on Providoor come with clear instructions and photos so you can see how best to present them. And Delia has some advice on replicating that restaurant experience at home: “The one tip I would suggest is investing in good crockery. I have my workhorse crockery that the kids smash and trash, and then I have a private stash of nice stuff that I use for entertaining.”

Providoor also provides another service to elevate your dinner: staff. Along with your fancy meal, you can order a private chef and/or a waiter to serve it (during times that restrictions permit). And although it’s not quite the same as going out to a restaurant, Delia says it gets you pretty damn close. “Once you pair the in-home chef/waiter option with your own creativity in regards to flatware, candles and floristry, your home can be transformed to a stunning venue.”

Unfortunately, for now you’ll still have to do the dishes.

You can read more about Providoor and order meals via the website.

Here are three other ways you can support Melbourne's hospitality industry right now.


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