By Hilary McNevin
Jo Barrett, co-executive chef of Yarra Valley's Oakridge Estate is our next Mount Zero Hero. We're thrilled that she created a recipe for Pulled Chicken and Green Olive Pie, exclusively for Mount Zero Olives.
Chef Jo Barrett is at home with her dog, Pickles. The co-executive chef of Yarra Valley’s Oakridge Estate with her partner, chef Matt Stone, is usually busy tending to her kitchen garden at Oakridge, running the busy kitchen with Matt and leading their team. But like all of us in Melbourne, the couple have changed the way they operate day-to-day. Jo is currently working at a bakery in Collingwood and Matt, at a butcher shop in Carlton.
Jo has a deep love and natural affinity with baking – she’s a qualified pastry chef – and these qualities translate to the recipe she has chosen to share as Mount Zero Hero. The warming combination of handmade pastry, slow-cooked chicken, aromats and olives – “the olives brighten it up!” she says – are all a part of her recipe for Pulled Chicken Pie.
In her recipe, Jo asks us to make the pie pastry from scratch. “It’s a pate brisee [a classic french short crust pastry] and you don’t have to be too delicate when you’re making it. But in these times of lockdown, I think it’s time to bust out a bit of skill,” she says.
It was when she was working at Tivoli Road Bakery in South Yarra back in 2012 that Jo first discovered Mount Zero Olives.
“It was definitely one of the first moments I really started to understand our local produce,” she says. “It was easy to think that olives, or other products like that, only came from Europe and there were these olives and they were so good!”
“I’ll never not use them now,” she laughs. “It was always easy to discredit produce from Australia, we’d look overseas previously, but we know now we have produce that is just as good.”
When asked which type of Mount Zero olive is her favourite, she simply says, “all of them!”
Not one to rest – even during lockdown – she’s also become a publisher. The first edition of Jo’s magazine Have a Go was released in late June. In collaboration with photographer Jana Langhorst, the pair have designed a beautiful and practical magazine that focusses on one recipe per edition.
“I wanted to shoot a cookbook and Jana and I had been talking about it for a long time. We had all kinds of plans but when COVID happened, we though ‘why not a magazine?’”
“We decided to put one recipe in there which stemmed from often being asked questions about recipes,” she says. Jo’s been making her own cheese for about three years and the first edition is dedicated to making cow’s milk Feta. The next edition is out now and is all about sourdough.
As a baker, pastry chef and publisher Jo Barrett is busy and pushing herself all the time. Keep an eye out for the Future Food System Green House where Jo and Matt will move into a sustainable house in Federation Square in Melbourne’s CBD. It’ll be an 87-square-metre home and urban farm in Melbourne and they’ll be cooking only what they grow.
But she does miss going out to Oakridge daily. “I didn’t quite realise how much I love being out in the country, until we couldn’t go.”
None of us know exactly when restaurants will be open again although we do hope it’s soon. We are thrilled that Mount Zero is a staple ingredient on their menu: “We always have Mount Zero olives on the menu,” Jo says, “from being part of a dish to a simple plate of olives with a dressing.”
We can’t wait to visit Oakridge again soon!