MOUNT ZERO HERO | Daniel Schelbert

June 9, 2020

By Hilary McNevin

We all know that a new season brings change but at the beginning of this year, who could have picked that by March we’d be facing changes none of us could see coming.

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed most things in our day-to-day lives but it hasn’t changed the calendar on the wall or stopped the leaves falling from the trees through autumn. It hasn’t stalled the icy mornings that are starting to bite us and it certainly hasn’t changed our new season olive oil from arriving. 

Every year we deliver our new season oil to our customers, some new to working with us, some who are getting to know us and some are like family. 

It was a pleasure to pay a recent visit to one of our oldest customers, chef Daniel Schelbert of Hawthorn’s Mister Sandrino. After more than 20 years of supplying Daniel with our products there’s enormous understanding between the two of us. 

We crossed paths with Daniel back when he was starting out as a chef; before we knew it he took on roles as a head chef and is now running his own show with his partner, Pia. 

The chef and the producer’s relationship can be an interesting one; over time, it develops its own language. We know how Daniel thinks at different times of the year and he understands what we can supply and when. It’s a connection based on understanding, timing and respect. 

As this is the month that restaurants start to open again, as restrictions slowly ease, Daniel is already anticipating the new season’s oil, “It’s always something to look forward to,” he says, “there are subtle changes in the oil every year and I love looking for them.”

beluga black lentils with sausages, fennel & lemon
Beluga black lentils with sausages, fennel & lemon. photo by Liam Neal   Click image for recipe.

What isn’t a subtle change is what’s happened this year but like all of the hospitality industry, Daniel and Pia are getting on with it.  On their reopening, he says, “I’m excited, worried and concerned but am also really happy because we can be hospitable again and have that interaction with our customers. I can cook for people  and see their faces when they eat rather than just get a nice text message for takeaway afterwards. It’s so wonderful to see people here in our dining room.” 

Many of those dishes at Mister Sandrino will include Mount Zero products, but particularly the new season’s olive oil. 

“I’m not into sauces,” says Daniel, “I always finish my dishes with a really good olive oil and it’s got to be Mount Zero.” 

Good luck on reopening Daniel and Pia, we’ll be here for you… 

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