It was Jaclyn Crupi’s desire not to have a car that led her to discover Mount Zero.
Melbourne-born cook and author, Jaclyn lived in Switzerland for five years, and on her return to Melbourne in 2014, wanted to continue living without a car, as she had done in Europe.
“I did wonder if it would be difficult without a car when we moved back,” says Jaclyn, “but I really wanted to give it a try.” She started researching products and how to shop effectively.
As an author of cookbooks (and children’s books), cooking was a big part of Jaclyn’s life. “I first encountered Mount Zero as I used chickpeas, lentils and olive oils a lot,” she says, “and I could order in bulk and have them delivered in sealed containers! This was my first glimpse that I could do this and not have to get a car.”
Jaclyn always placed large orders and continues to do so, “The two-litre containers very quickly migrated to 15 litres, and I’d buy their olives in huge jars. I make my own olives now, but they’re still not as good as Mount Zero.”
Jaclyn loves our Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil - “It’s my go-to for everything, I’m an olive oil fiend!” she laughs. “I love the Frantoio oil too, it has such beautiful flavour and they recently sent me some of the Early Harvest Picual EVOO which knocked my socks off! It’s perfect to swirl over a salad or finish a pasta with; it’s pretty spesh.”
It's this fiendish love of olive oil – and the rest – that makes Jaclyn the perfect Mount Zero Hero!
In two of Jaclyn’s previous cookbooks, Nonna Knows Best and Garden like a Nonno, she pays homage to her Italian heritage and her grandparents who taught her so much, not just about cooking with olive oil but using it as a beauty and health product.
“My nonna believed that olive oil was good inside and outside of your body,” Jaclyn says, “she used to drink three tablespoons a day and used it as a moisturiser.”
Another tip? “When you’ve finished cooking, put a little coarse salt and olive oil on your hands and rub them together. It’s the best exfoliant scrub,” Jaclyn says.
“I love cooking pasta!” she says, “I like using quite a bit of salt in the pasta water. For one litre of water, use 10 grams of salt, which is quite a lot.
The pasta will absorb the salt it needs. The salt and water need to be plentiful and boiling. We say it needs to taste like the Mediterranean.”
And, don’t waste the pasta water! “Always use some of the pasta water to add to the final dish. It emulsifies the sauce giving it richness,” says Jaclyn, adding that pasta water can also kill weeds!
“Pour any leftover pasta water on weeds caught in pavers, we waste nothing.”
Jaclyn has chosen to share her recipe for pasta with chickpeas and chestnuts for this month’s recipe. “It’s a soupy dish filled with Mount Zero chickpeas and loves a good glug of olive oil to finish it.”
The recipe suggests chestnuts – a very wintery ingredient – but Jaclyn says they’re optional as it’s a solid dish to enjoy all year round.
The fast five with Jaclyn Crupi
1. If you weren't an author, what would you be doing?
I’d be a market gardener.
2. Last place you dined out?
Embla, I just love it there.
3. What's your favourite Melbourne restaurant?
4. Favourite season/s of the year for produce?
Autumn because it’s the season for things like radicchio, chestnuts, and Italian brassicas. It’s a big season for Italian flavours.
5. Do you have any special projects scheduled for this year or beyond?
Turning my attention to a new book, due in 2025.
By Hilary McNevin