It is a beautiful Melbourne autumn afternoon. I am greeted at the front door by a very casual Jake Coates dressed in a flannel shirt, slacks and house moccasins. The rich aroma of a crustacean stock wafts through the corridor. “I’ve just got a bisque on the go. Getting ready for a tasting tomorrow,” he says as he ushers me in.
Jake is the chef and founder of POME Dining and also has a deep reverence for nature and regenerative practices.
Originally from Hastings in the UK Jake moved to London when he was 19 years old where he started cooking. He spent seven years working in a range of establishments, honing his skills in gastropubs, catering companies and Michelin-starred restaurants.
In his mid-twenties, he decided that it was time for a change. He applied for a working holiday visa and jumped on a plane to Australia.
When he first got here he was not sure if he would stick it out past 6 months, but he ended up finding a good job in a local Seddon café (Est.1906) that really grounded him. He found the café scene in Melbourne a refreshing change from the heat and stress of London kitchens.
It was at Est.1906 where he met one of his future employers, Adam Pruckner, owner and founder of Small Axe Kitchen in Brunswick. It is also where he first met his life and business partner, Gertie Hall. Both were to become huge supporters of POME dining.
“Yeah I love the West,” Jake says when I ask him if he had considered moving to a another area. “I go to other suburbs and there’s a different feel… a different community feel.” The cultural diversity of the west reminds him of London – of Brixton, Camberwell and Tooting. “I’ve just met good people here… I love how multicultural it is”.
From bricks and mortar to a movable feast
The idea to open a private-dining outfit was birthed in early 2020, when Jake was helping to cook at a charity dinner, raising money for victims of the Black Summer bushfires. He was asked by multiple people if that was what he did for a living and it got him thinking that it might be a viable option for a business.
“Over the years I’ve really thought about what I wanted to do in terms of business.”
“Opening a restaurant would just drain the chances of me travelling when I wanted to … but I still want to be involved with food. I love cooking. ”
With Adam’s blessing, he registered a business using Small Axe’s already certified kitchen, which saved him a lot of time and money.
“People say, never burn your bridges. You work hard for people and the return is there.”
The mobile catering van which Jake and Gertie had originally decked out for travel needed surprisingly few alterations to get licensed as a food vehicle. It was already fitted out with lots of heavy-duty storage and a built-in fridge.
“It’s obviously not my dream vehicle, but who has that for their first business?” he laughs.
Fine-dining restaurant brought to your home
The best way to describe POME is high-end, bespoke catering with a personal touch. Imagine a fine-dining restaurant being brought right into your home, complete with pressed linen, polished stem wine glasses, beautiful ceramic plates and experienced wait staff. It offers clients a fuss-free way to entertain and celebrate special occasions in the intimacy and comfort of their own homes.
“I love entertaining, and I’ve always loved cooking at other people’s houses.”
Inspiration for the business comes from taste, place, people and regeneration with particular focus on flavour and aesthetics. With a background in design and photography, Gertie plays an important supporting role to Jake’s culinary creations.
As much as he can, he tries to partner with local businesses in Melbourne’s inner west. Vegetables are from Pompello in Seddon and seafood is from D&K Seafood in Footscray.
“Building relationships with suppliers … is really important. Especially standing at the table, explaining it to people. I don’t think any of the other larger companies have that.”
To kick off the business Jake is holding monthly supper clubs at a residence in Seddon. It is a great opportunity for a fun night out to try some new food and meet other local food and wine enthusiasts.
Dinners are capped at 8 guests and include a 4-course seasonal menu and wine pairings. Dates for June and July are the 17th and the 15th respectively. For more details, check out POME Dining’s website and socials.