What's in Oakridge chef Jo Barrett's low-waste kitchen?

Jo Barrett collects honey and preserves as souvenirs.
Jo Barrett collects honey and preserves as souvenirs. Photo: Supplied

Deservedly famous for her sourdough bread made from hand-milled flour, the joint head chef of acclaimed Victorian minimum-waste winery restaurant Oakridge also makes her own butter and brie, and has even started publishing her own food magazine.

I'm embarrassed for you to see but I'll show you... my absurdly large jam and honey selection. I guess you could say I'm a bit of a preserves geek. They give you a taste of exactly where they come from, so I'll often pick them up as souvenirs from different places I visit. This is especially true with honey – you can get so many distinctive flavour profiles depending on where the bees have been and what type of pollen they've picked up.

My favourite gadget: I couldn't live without a temperature probe. I use it to make cheese, ice-cream, to cook the perfect steak and much more.

Barrett adds kimchi to cheese toasties, and scrambled eggs.
Barrett adds kimchi to cheese toasties, and scrambled eggs. Photo: Supplied

Go-to midnight meal: I love making kimchi and cheese toasties. It might sound like an odd combination, but it's the ultimate homemade snack. (Here are Barrett's cheese toastie tips.)

You'll never catch me with a… roll of cling film. We call it "turtle strangler" in the Oakridge kitchen. We take a lot of care to maintain our zero-waste policy, so we have invested in all sorts of reusable storage options made from glass, ceramic and steel. It's more expensive in the short term but is well worth it in the long run. Years ago, we did have to use it to cover our doughs for proving, but we cut this out by investing in a prover.

My mild superhero power in the kitchen is... keeping busy. I've used the extra time on my hands to write and publish a series of food zines called Have a Go. I've also been working at Falco bakery in Collingwood, pruning vines at Oakridge and helping on Joost Bakker's Greenhouse project in Melbourne's Federation Square.

Barrett has an Italian stovetop coffee maker for home use.
Barrett has an Italian stovetop coffee maker for home use. Photo: iStock

My go-to-lockdown meal: Chicken broth with greens and orecchiette. It's been nice to be able to settle in and eat at home more often – it's not something we do as regularly as we'd like.

My favourite hero ingredient is... eggs – always organic and free-range. We are lucky enough to collect eggs from our own chickens at Oakridge and I still get excited when I go up to visit "the girls" at their chicken coop.

One thing in my fridge I can't live without is... kimchi. It's great for your gut health and just generally really tasty. I love it with scrambled eggs, in sandwiches and straight out of the jar if I feel like a big hit of flavour.

I take my caffeine… numerous times a day. It's my ride or die. And it's always best when it's made with milk from the small dairy farm up the road from Oakridge. At home we use an Italian stovetop percolator and drink it black.