Poland to Australia, one Pierogi at a time.
It’s a classic story. Boy meets girl, they fall in love then take the leap and move from London to Australia. But for Dominika Sikorska and Guy Daley, there’s something unique at the center of their relationship. Pierogi. Polish dumplings.
Their journey has been a long one, starting a decade ago with vibrant ‘pierogi parties’ held in their London apartment and then in Melbourne.
Their shared love for this specific dish inspired them to start a business that would let hungry customers taste and enjoy the food that brought them together as a couple.
“There was no one in Melbourne approaching Polish food with the idea to introduce it to non-Polish people in a youthful, spirited way,” the couple says.
“So seven years ago, we woke up from one of those parties a little worse for wear, and decided to register a business name. The rest is history!”
The couple bought a run-down burnt orange van named Bangs (due to its intermittent carburetor explosions), and started transporting and selling their produce across Melbourne.
“We would load in a small chest freezer full of pierogi, as well as all our cooking equipment, and go to local markets.”
Dominika and Guy approached their idea as an avenue to introduce people not only to a particular food, but to Poland as a whole.
They wanted to show off the colour, vibrancy, history and depth of Polish cuisine and culture – proving there’s more to the country than vodka and concrete public housing estates. Think of it as a form of dumpling diplomacy.
“The pierogi is a simple and effective tool to open someone up to the idea that there is definitely something worth exploring where this delicious little dumpling came from,” the couple say.
But the business had to overcome one big hurdle early on – spreading the word and explaining what was on offer for customers who were new to Polish cuisine.
“If no one knows what you’re selling, then you have to work ten times harder at selling it,” the couple says.
With Pierogi Pierogi dumplings soon being stocked across Melbourne, and Guy spending less and less time at his ‘real job’, they hit a period of growth that made the prospect of going full-time hard to ignore.
The brand’s growth also meant it was time for a new van – one that could provide everything from transport and equipment storage to a makeshift kitchen. And they knew they needed a workhouse, choosing a Sprinter Van due to its flexibility and reliability.
“It was something we knew would last and take the beating that it gets, and not skip a beat. Plus, we can fill it front to back and side to side with a variety of cooking equipment, frozen stock and our whole market stall and gazebo,” they say.
“We have three staff in the front and don’t have to do a second trip. It is an exercise in real life Tetris – but this van carries it all.”
For a van that needed to serve so many purposes, customisation was key. They fitted custom caddy racks in the rear to safely hold boxes to roof height, with an electrical system for safe temperature-control for the precious pierogies on board.
They also made a point of installing a heavy-duty folding swivel ramp for easy roll-outs, avoiding the back-pain of lifting heavy items.
But customisation doesn’t always happen out of sight. One of the biggest draws of the Sprinter was its ability to act as “a rolling billboard”, a feature Pierogi Pierogi have taken full advantage of.
Dominika and Guy wrapped the outside of the van in an energetic combination of yellow, green, pink and blue, and gave the designer a very specific brief: “We want to see the van from space!”
Their Sprinter is now on display at Melbourne’s Grazeland – a food truck depot boasting tastes and treats from far-flung cuisines and cultures.
The business started after a party, but the future of Pierogi Pierogi is strategic and considered. Dominika and Guy have a dumpling take-over planned, expanding their current list of 50 stockists into other Australian states.
There is also a more permanent outlet in mind.
“It’s time for us to open our own little vodka bar and pierogi joint, and by that stage it will be a new production kitchen. The fun never stops!”
Article commissioned by Mercedes-Benz Australia/Pacific Pty Ltd.