After working eighteen years in the debt collection; commercial and private investigation field, I decided to follow my dream of becoming a chef, in which I created a Facebook group called ‘Give the Bro a TV Show (Chef Marcus)’. Within a week, I had amassed a large social media following. I was contacted by television producers, directors, radio stations and journalists all within a week of launching the page.
I appeared on Māori television; in a hunting, gathering and cooking show, ‘Hunt with Me’.
I applied for my first job as a chef. I had never worked in a commercial kitchen before, I had been cooking at home for over twenty years but not many people knew that I cooked. During my initial job interview I was asked for my resume, which I felt was irrelevant considering I was stepping into the culinary world with zero experience. I shared my background with the head chef and showed him my Facebook page ‘Give the Bro a TV Show (Chef Marcus)’, and he had me start the next day. I worked in that commercial kitchen for two years and began to do private chef jobs and catering work under ‘Give the Bro a TV Show (Chef Marcus)’ on my days off.
I was invited to be a guest chef at the Aotearoa Fest in November, 2018 and Woolworths sponsored me providing me with beautiful fresh produce and seafood.
In late December, 2019 I was diagnosed with cubital tunnel syndrome, which resulted in me losing half the sensation and function in my left hand which even today, remains the same. I have no sensation in half of my left hand due to severe ulnar nerve damage. Subsequently, I was put on work cover whilst undergoing treatment which continues today.
My income was reduced as a result.
Then the Covid19 pandemic struck, which had a huge impact on commercial kitchens, causing many to close down for a lengthy period. My partner then lost one of two jobs, also a result of Covid19. My household income was drastically affected, yet the bills were still rolling in. I had to think of something to support my family during this difficult time.
I walked into a seafood market and purchased a single ten kilo box of A Grade New Zealand Green Lipped Mussels; took them home, ate two kilos and I turned the other eight kilos into various flavors' then placed them into punnets. I put up a post on ‘Give the Bro a TV Show (Chef Marcus)’ Facebook page to sell them, they sold out in a day. The next day I purchased two, ten kilo boxes and they sold out too. Five days later I was contacted by a shop owner who asked me if I could supply her shop with my mussels and I agreed.
A dream come true which reduced me to tears.
I thought of this idea as a “side hustle” and noticed that “hustle” rhymed with “mussel”. That’s how I came up with the name ‘Mussel Hustle Co.’ I created a logo and registered a business with ASIC.
Ten days later, I found myself processing a ¼ tonne of mussels in a single day with the help of family and friends. I decided to start selling them to every state in Australia. I kept selling out daily and began to receive offers from all around the world, which included companies, shops and distribution companies who wanted my full range of mussels. The business is three weeks old and I am supplying two shops and two seafood markets already. Then offers from New Zealand and Australia regarding franchising ‘Mussel Hustle Co.’ came and they continue to roll in.
I built a website, got business cards made and employed seven people within three weeks of operation. This gave me enough capital to start looking at moving the operation to a large commercial premises to meet the ever-growing demand.
The story of Chef Marcus Poa and ‘Mussel Hustle Co.’ continues…
Marcus Poa - Founder/Managing Director
Mussel Hustle Co.