The Essential Ingredient South Melbourne

Contact Details

266 Coventry Street

South Melbourne - VIC 3205

(03) 9682 3414 Get Directions
Opening Hours
Monday Closed
Tuesday 10am - 3pm
Wednesday 9am - 4pm
Thursday 10am - 3pm
Friday 9am - 4pm
Saturday 9am - 4pm
Sunday 10am - 3pm
Closed Public Holidays.
What makes our store so special?

Public car parking is available at the nearby South Melbourne Market and on Coventry Street

Gift hampers and gift wrapping

About Our Store

In 1990, a small family-owned and operated specialty ingredient store embarked on a journey in the heart of South Melbourne, namely, The Vital Ingredient. This marked the humble beginnings of a business that would come to represent a culinary bridge between continents. This unassuming store, founded by Syd and Susan Weddell - both passionate food enthusiasts - set out to source exquisite ingredients from the far corners of Italy, Spain and France and the bountiful farms throughout Australia. At that time, a simple Sunny Boy ice block could be bought for mere cents, Tiny Teddy’s hit our shelves and soon after, Maggie Beer, Stephanie Alexander and Donna Hay were tempting us with Middle Eastern, Chinese and European flavours to cook at home. It could be said however, that most of Australia still thought Curry was a surname!

Over the years, Melbourne has evolved into a vibrant culinary melting pot, embracing international cuisines with open arms. The Vital Ingredient (now The Essential Ingredient) has played a pivotal role in this gastronomic evolution, introducing the flavours of Europe to those wanting to embrace the new wave of global food trends using ingredients made with time-honoured techniques.   With dedication and an unwavering commitment to quality, the business has flourished, becoming a trusted supplier to some of the finest restaurants, hotels, and caterers across Australia. The best-of-the-best deserves the best FROM the best, which is why our client list may include your local, artisanal deli or specialty food store. The journey has been fuelled by a team of specialty staff who are not only brilliant home cooks but also obsessed foodies. Top that with the knowledge of our chefs on staff and The Essential Ingredient is your open cookbook, your real, live glossary of all things for your kitchen and dining know-how.

Our Prahran store is conveniently located adjacent to the bustling Prahran Market which provides a sun-drenched outdoor plaza featuring live music and activities for kids. South Melbourne offers a more tailored and streamlined store, just a short stroll from the South Melbourne Market with easy parking along one of the area’s most popular shopping strips.

As a market leader in specialty foods, cookware, dinnerware, and culinary books we celebrate our shared passion for all things food, and it is this passion that we bring to every aspect of our business. We invite you to experience the joy of better cooking at The Essential Ingredient.


For Career Opportunities in our Victorian Retail Stores and Wholesale Division please email your resume to

We currently have vacancies in our Wholesale Division located in South Yarra for:

  • Driver Pick and Pack ( Casual )
  • Team Leader


    Our lovingly curated Gift Boxes are now available at both our Prahran and South Melbourne stores. Click here to view our range (note that both Ottolenghi's Essentials, French Summer and Sweet Indulgence are sold out). 


    Corporate enquiries are welcome.

    Email - 

    Phone - (03) 9827 9047

    Knife Sharpening Service

    Knife Sharpening is available for your precious knives in our Prahran store on the first Thursday of every month. Leave your knives with us by close of business on the first Thursday and they will be sharpened and ready to collect the following Saturday from 10.30am. Fees apply and are determined by the size of your knife and any damage to the blade.