Meraki Produce is a locally owned and operated café, kitchen, and catering business. Owner and operator, Jacquie, is originally from Corowa and was a primary school teacher before following her passion and taking a risk to open Meraki three and a half years ago.
Meraki pride themselves on making everything from scratch using the freshest ingredients to create healthy meals for everyone. There are four facets of the business: in store grab-and-go meals, catering, weekly meal delivery, and cooking classes for kids, teens, and adults. Jacquie and her team have worked hard to create a space that isn’t just a kitchen, and neither just a café – it’s both.
Like many small-business owners, Jacquie wears a lot of hats – but misses her chef’s hat the most. “I love cooking, but with the expanding business I haven’t been able to do that as much,” she said, but her favourite part about the business is her small, close-knit team – followed closely by their community. “We have an open space so that when people come in, they can talk to the chefs, and have a taste testing of different meals if they like. It's a really open environment - which is why I'm really close with a lot of community members because you get to see and speak with them a lot.”
Jacquie has always had an interest in food and healthy living; before becoming a primary school teacher she studied a Bachelors of Exercise Science & Psychology but has always had an interest in kids cooking and teaching people how to create their own healthy meals. “I took a year off from being a leading teacher to start doing kids lunchboxes and healthy meals for people, and within six months it took off from my home kitchen,” Jacquie says on our call. Still dealing with COVID-19 and intermittent lockdowns, Jacquie has persevered and adapted the business to remain open throughout by turning to online orders and contactless meal deliveries. Jacquie credits having the online platform set up in the early stage of her business as to why they were able to pivot their business model so quickly.
Meraki are currently in the process of building a new purpose-built site. As their business model is so multi-faceted, Jacquie couldn’t find any cafes with a kitchen big enough to also run catering and cooking classes. They have now found a new site and are creating a warm and home-style feel café alongside a commercial kitchen, hopefully opening in November.
Meraki produces over 100+ recipes, all on a rotating basis so choosing a favourite is quite the task. “We just had an order for 50 laksa's, so that’s meant cooking 30-40L of soup so I’m a bit sick of soup at the moment. But, if I had to pick just one, it would be the Korean Chicken Bao Buns – they aren’t on right now, but hopefully soon we can bring them back.”
You can find Meraki Produce at 2/449A Dean Street or online at merakiproduce.com.au