From The Earth
A PASSION FOR WASTE-NOT COOKING IS THE DRIVING FORCE BEHIND OAKRIDGE RESTAURANT.
THE PROMISE OF
new harvests in the kitchen garden causes many a chef’s heart to skip. This is certainly the case for Matt Stone and Jo Barrett, co-executive chefs at Oakridge Wines’ restaurant in Victoria’s Yarra Valley. “Everything is starting to blossom and there are little shoots around. It’s really a great time,” says Matt. It was the garden that drew Matt, 31, and Jo, 30 — whose partnership extends to their private lives — to Oakridge Restaurant in 2015. The next year it was named Hottest Regional Restaurant in The Weekend Australian and they were awarded one Chefs Hat in the Good Food Guide 2018. Currently “on the road to zero waste” (mineral water is on tap rather than bottled, milk comes in vats, chooks are on the way and they have just built their first greenhouse), the restaurant’s two large gardens are pivotal to the pair’s ethical philosophy of sourcing local produce, cutting food miles and creating vibrant food with a sense of place. “It pushes us to be more creative,” Matt explains. “Adapting to your environment is really important... from gathering wild food from the area to sparking ideas from local producers and encouraging them to grow new things.” Matt started his career at Leeuwin Estate in the Margaret River region of Western Australia. He and Jo — who is Melbourne-born — met in 2010 and have worked at eco-designer Joost Bakker’s former Greenhouse restaurant in Perth, associated pop-ups and the Melbourne cafés Silo and Brothl. Jo is now head pastry chef at Oakridge, having worked at Melbourne’s Movida Bakery and Tivoli Road Bakery. Surprisingly, baking was a hard-earned love. “I hated it at first because I didn’t know how to do it, but decided I should just tackle it head on,” says Jo. “If I wanted to be a good head chef, I had to learn all the sections. Now I really enjoy the craft of making bread and pastries — I like the artisan style of cooking.” The menu Matt and Jo prepared for Country Style is “more refined, but the same sort of idea” as the food they prepare in the restaurant, and showcases both their talents. “We complement each other and together we have an overall end goal. Having our skill sets spread across the kitchen helps achieve that,” Jo adds. Oakridge Restaurant is at 864 Maroondah Highway, Coldstream, Victoria. (03) 9738 9900; oakridgewines.com.au
Matt Stone, co-executive chef at Oakridge Restaurant in Victoria’s Yarra Valley, in one of the two sprawling vegetable gardens that are enriched with grape pressings.