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Catholic mates turn $1400 into $12million

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Former Patrician Brothers, Fairfield, students established ready-made meals in Australia. PHOTO: Alphonsus Fok

A leap of faith paid off for Tomi and Dean

What started as two Catholic high school mates, $1400 and a leap of faith has turned into a $12 million business and shaped the way healthy meals are home delivered around the country.

Nearly 10 years ago, former Patrician Brothers Fairfield students Tomi Jurlina and Dean Deakin started one of the first companies of its kind in Australia and are now credited with establishing the ready-cooked meal industry today worth an estimated $2 billion annually.

Not bad for a couple of fellas who admit they couldn’t cook and had no experience in a kitchen. But what they did have was a passion for all things fitness and well-being, so persevered on the challenging journey of researching and experimenting with food groups and compositions.

“Our faith is very important to us, if you don’t have it what have you got?”

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Cooked by Dean’s mum in her own kitchen, Workout Meals were originally designed for those going to the gym and wanting calorie controlled meals. Today, a staff of more than 30, including a world-renowned executive chef and a nutritionist, have devised, prepared and sold well over a million meals with their “pallet to plate philosophy”.

Unlike similar companies, all of the ingredients used in their meals are sourced only from Australia and New Zealand creating everything from low carb, Keto, weight loss, muscle gain, vegan and gluten free offerings for time-poor people wanting to eat and stay healthy.

The young entrepreneurs admit that while food and family have always been at the centre of everything they do, their faith has also played a huge part in their success. Co-director Tomi said he and his business partner share a common appreciation for what they have achieved and how it has all been possible.

“What we have achieved is all due to the talents given to us by God,” he said. “Our faith is very important to us, if you don’t have it what have you got? And we certainly took a leap of faith back in 2012 when we were continually told there wasn’t an appetite for what we were offering.

Workout Meals had humble beginnings in Dean’s mother’s kitchen. PHOTO: Alphonsus Fok

“We had no idea what we were doing, if there was a mistake to be made, we made it, and at times we had doubts as there was nobody else on the market doing it so couldn’t look for advice. Although we persevered and while today we aren’t the biggest pre-made meal company in Australia we are one of the oldest who really know what we are doing.

“A lot of companies have come and gone as it is a very demanding industry but we have survived for so long because we don’t cut corners or use inferior ingredients, we offer very high quality meals and service to go with it.”

One of the few industries to grow during COVID, the company has seen a huge increase in demand for their meals since the pandemic. Tomi said online orders doubled in March when lockdown happened and during the recent outbreak in Victoria demand has tripled.

“COVID seems to have led to pre-prepared meals becoming part of the norm at the dinner table and being a part of that is very humbling,” he said. “We’ve sold over 100,000 meals since March which is incredible. We have some really exciting initiatives we are introducing in 2021 which we hope will once again be a first for the industry.”

For more details or to order visit the Workout Meals website.

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