Winner: Jo Barrett, Oakridge
As senior sous chef, Barrett’s work with head chef Matt Stone has taken Oakridge winery’s restaurant to new heights since their move into the Yarra Valley vineyard mid-2015. Specialising in breads and pastry, Barrett earned her stripes through stints at Movida, Tivoli Road Bakery and Long Shot Café, where she worked closely with Shaun Quade (Lûmé). “I got into pastry so I could have a better understanding of how the whole kitchen works – I learnt to make bread and fell in love with the creative side to pastry,” says Barrett, 27.
It was her fascination with sustainability and where food comes from that lead her to working with Matt Stone for the first time at Joost Bakker’s Sydney Greenhouse, and this interest is still the compass that guides her pastry menu at Oakridge. “Having the kitchen garden and suppliers close by makes it easy to be very connected to what’s in season. It can be restrictive, but it forces me to be more creative.” Hungry for experience, Barrett immerses herself in commitments outside of Oakridge with involvements in consulting work; Fully Booked, a social community of women in food and wine; and secret supper club Private Dining Room. We’re betting one of the best young chefs in Australia is about to do some serious trail-blazing.