Many of Melbourne's pandemic food side hustles are thriving

Nerida McPherson, who started PavQueen during lockdown, is opening a kitchen and retail outlet in Alphington.
Nerida McPherson, who started PavQueen during lockdown, is opening a kitchen and retail outlet in Alphington. Photo: Chris Hopkins

A year on from 2020's first shutdown, a number of food side hustles that were started out of necessity have not only survived but are thriving.

Food event host Nerida McPherson started PavQueen, a pavlova home delivery service, to save her sanity last August.

She had never planned a side job in dessert, but became so obsessed with, and good at, making the fruit-stacked, fluffy-souled pavs, she has taken over a former butcher's shop at 48 Wingrove Street, Alphington, to make the side hustle her main gig.

She is renovating the space with her carpenter brother and will open in a few weeks, selling her pavlovas, lemon curd (to use the yolks), and St Remio coffee, sourced from Rwanda, which returns 10 per cent of profits to farmers. pavqueen.com.au.

Fellow pandemic hustler Thiago Mateus has also found so much continued love for his empadao, the giant party pies of Brazil that come in flavours such as spiced chicken and corn and leek and palm heart, he is currently looking for bigger premises so Samba Empadas can increase production.

Two new stars of Indonesian cuisine launched by out-of-work expats last year both look like they're sticking around.

Brazilian chef Thiago Mateus is looking for premises to continue making his family-sized Brazilian pies.
Brazilian chef Thiago Mateus is looking for premises to continue making his family-sized Brazilian pies. Photo: Chloe Dann

Chef Nicole (no surname) launched Mangan Yuk to showcase her family's West Sumatran and Bataknese roots.

While she paused it at the end of lockdown to start work again, she has since resumed her takeaway business, meaning you can order sop kambing (a milk-based soup from Jakarta featuring goat, made to her mother's recipe), as well as her new range of shrimp or tomato-based sambals through cookaborough.com.

And Bali-focused Jaen Jumah, by chef Ida Bagus Palguna, designer Raphael Dreki and pastry chef Devina Wijaya, which gained a following last year for its tum babi (pork steamed in banana leaves) and rojak, a tropical fruit salad with a spicy, salty, shrimpy dressing, is paused due to visa commitments.

But the trio plan to resume takeaway soon, followed by dine-in pop-ups, with the goal of opening a restaurant someday. Stay tuned via instagram.com/jaenjumah.melb.