It was when chef Hugh Sanderson opened his café, Custodian Kitchen, in Moorabbin five years ago that he first discovered Mount Zero.
“Before we opened the café, we were looking for a good salt for each table,” he says, “and we found the Pink Lake Salt and that was where it started.”
Custodian Kitchen is a daytime café that has a solid following and a few years in, Hugh and his business partners started a conversation about doing a night-time venture.
Hugh was reflecting on the concept and the name ‘Savarin’ came into his head.
“Not the cheese but the French barrister in the 1700s who was a great observer of dining,” Hugh says.
Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin (1755 – 1826) was a French lawyer and politician, who, as the author of The Physiology of Taste gained fame and recognition as a gastronome.
“He was very quotable,” says Hugh, “and talks of welcoming people into your restaurant as you would welcome them into your home. That the customers’ happiness and well-being is what is important. That’s my mantra.”
Hence, Bar Savarin was born. A dining room open from 4pm, Tuesdays to Saturdays that serves food steeped in French technique from Sanderson's training while being clean and modern in its execution.
It’s this commitment to quality in every element of hospitality that sees Hugh as our Mount Zero Hero this month.
“We’ve had a great response to Bar Savarin over the last 18 months,” says Hugh. “We’re off the beaten track and seem to be more about destination dining, but in saying that we’ve built a great community of regulars.”
It’s easy to see why people keep returning, with dishes such as mushroom parfait with sherry honeycomb and milk bread or Mt Martha Mussels and sea succulents with green tomato and fennel.
Mount Zero comes into the picture from the beginning; our mixed olives are available to share and Hugh uses Mount Zero olives to dehydrate and produce powders to finish dishes.
“I love the Arbequina olive oil, it’s my preference in the kitchen,” says Hugh, “as it’s not too strong, a great all-rounder.”
The recipe Hugh has shared with us is Raw Kingfish with a Dirty Martini Dressing, using vermouth, gin, red wine vinegar and our olive brine.
“I had some brine from the olives and wondered what it would be like to make a dressing with it, it worked! Kingfish has good oil content, so I initially cured it but now it’s evolved into raw Kingfish to soak up the brine dressing,” he says, “It’s great for the home cook, tastes delicious and looks really great, too!”
The Fast Five
1. If you weren't a chef, what would you be doing?
I can’t imagine doing anything else. I love hospitality, I love what it is. I see that my role will change within that, but I want to support and empower those coming into the industry.
2. Last place you dined out?
Navi in Yarraville, an amazing experience.
3. What's your favourite Melbourne restaurant?
4. Favourite season/s of the year for produce?
Spring, for the colour that comes back to the landscape and the vibrant produce that arrives.
5. Do you have any special projects scheduled for 2023 or beyond?
My partner and I are expecting our first baby in July, that’s a very special project.
By Hilary McNevin