When developing our menu at Marko, we went about buying ingredients from all over Melbourne and playing around with different recipes to find our taste-making plant-based meals. Seems innocent enough. However, being Melbourne foodies ourselves, we were surprised to find our lentils from Canada, olive oil from Spain, salt from England, chickpea mayo from the US and even bread from Ireland: Our shopping cart was looking like a passport with all the international stamps we could see. And hey, we're not saying that's always a bad thing. Still, given recent global events, we want to source, shop and help support our local businesses. Why is that important? Well, by shopping local we ensure money stays in the local community to create jobs. It means produce isn't shipped worldwide or across state lines, leading to fewer carbon emissions which equals a better environmental footprint. It also means fresher food: We can work with the farmers and producers to get what we want, the way we want it and when we want it (depending on what Mother Nature has in mind, of course.)
Lentils, chickpeas, salt and olive oil from the Wimmera
Working with Richard and his parents from Mount Zero, we're buying most of our grains, legumes, salt and olive oil from The Wimmera — a farming region north-west of Melbourne. Did you know lentils and chickpeas are super good for this farming region's soil? Neither did we until we worked with locals like Richard and learnt that our purchases encourage more farmers to plant and grow these crops, adding nitrogen to improve the area's soil. In other good news, the pink lake salt we use is hand-shovelled off the lake in cooperation with the local indigenous community. We're super humbled to be helping provide income and jobs to those that have lived on the land for millennia.
100% local drinks list
You never see this! (Take note, the exclamation point means we are excited about this local contribution... probably because it involves booze.) A local drinks list is a little more challenging to do and costs more. But we work with many local legends like Capi Soda, Liberty Kombucha, local craft brewers, local spirit distillers and local winemakers to present a 100% local list. There is also no plastic and all glass and aluminium is recycled.
Big thinkers from small places
Innovation is also at the forefront with our local suppliers. We use delicious chickpea mayo (no soy or eggs to make it thick), an incredible milk bun for our burgers (with the "milk" coming from coconuts) and our coffee is from Clement (100% owned by St Ali), just 4 shops down from us at the South Melbourne Market. We want to help encourage and invest in anything that will make our food tastier and our future brighter.
At Marko, we believe Melbourne is one of the world's food capital. Big call, but we stand by it. For this reason, our ingredients will always come from close by so we can grow not just plant-based food but also our communities too.