Joey Kellock, our Mount Zero Hero this month, is arranging flowers when I call to have a chat to him.
He’s putting a single carnation in a small bottle out on each table of his Thornbury dining room.
“Every setting has its own candle and carnation,” says Kellock. “Carnations make sense for me, I love the joyous fun and nostalgia that they bring.”
This positive and nostalgic energy has set the foundation upon which Joey Kellock’s business 1800Lasagne has grown.
It’s the stuff of legend now, but Kellock and his lasagne have soothed souls and nourished his community since 2015.
Back then, a dear friend of Joey’s asked him to host and cater her birthday dinner, which he accepted. “What the hell am I going to make,” he says he was thinking. “I loved these friends dearly and wondered what’s one dish that I can make as an expression of love and feed a bunch of people? It was lasagne! A no-brainer,” he laughs.
The following day, he had some lasagne leftover. He plated it up, put it on the bench seat of his ute and dropped off to other friends. It became a business idea that same day.
“It was so much fun; I was making people smile and enjoyed delivering the food so much. The next day, I was at a loose end and borrowed money from a friend to make 40 portions. I put it out there that I was selling it and by the time I came back from shopping for the ingredients, it had sold out.”
He set up a bricks-and-mortar venue in late 2020 while continuing to deliver through lockdowns, quickly building a vast community of dedicated lasagne fans. Mount Zero was always in the background as one of his suppliers.
“Mount Zero has been a constant for me,” he says, “And they’ve been a constant in Melbourne in the dining sphere – every good venue uses Mount Zero products.”
The team at 1800Lasagne use our Mount Zero Green Olives in Brine in their martinis and Joey uses our Extra Virgin Olive Oils in cooking and for finishing dishes, including the recipe he’s sharing with us this month: Puttanesca sauce for pasta.
“Puttanesca is literally one of my favourite things to eat in the whole world,” he says. “And it was the first thing I ate when I visited my father’s home in Trieste in Italy. It’s very special to me.”
Good produce is key to Joey, as is treating it with respect. When it comes to what pasta to use with the Puttanesca, he loves penne – “a workhorse pasta shape,” he adds – but his favourite is spaghetti and that’s what he’s using in this recipe.
A final tip is to allow the pasta to spend time in the sauce. “Let the sauce stain that pasta to become deep in colour and bring out as much flavour as possible.”
This recipe offers warmth and comfort, a lot of what Joey’s 1800Lasagne was built on. Thanks Joey!
By Hilary McNevin