Jo Barrett is one of Australia’s best pastry chefs (among other things – she also makes her own cheese!), and we’re super excited to have her on our Chef’s Hub. We sat down for a chat about her career so far, and her favourite ingredients to use in the kitchen.

Hi Jo! It’s great to have you with us, Can you tell our readers a bit about yourself?
I’ve been a chef for 14 years. I have always loved cooking and knew from a very young age that I wanted to spend my time in the kitchen. For the last five years, I have been cooking at Oakridge Winery in the Yarra Valley as co- executive chef, but I’m just about to step into a new role at Joost Bakker’s Greenhouse Future Food Systems project in Fed Square. When I was younger, I cooked in Canada and New Zealand before I returned home to Australia to train as a baker and pastry chef. I love using fresh produce and cook from my local surrounds and kitchen garden.

Yum! If you weren’t a chef, what would you be doing?
Either a farmer, growing lots of lovely fresh fruit and vegetables, or a florist.

Tell us about one of your career highlights.
I have loved so many aspects of what I get to do and what I have been exposed to with being a chef. Representing Australia and competing last year in the World Trophy of Pastry was definitely an amazing experience.

What are you loving about local produce at the moment?
I love spring and the change of season. Watching the garden change and blossom is a sign winter is done. This time of year, I love making cheese from the local milk in the Yarra Valley. The flowers and clover that pop up in the lush grasses make for fatty full-flavoured milk that’s perfect for cheese making.

What’s your favourite native Australian bush food to cook with?
It is hard to pick just one! I love Davidson Plum; it’s got such an intense flavour and colour.  It’s really versatile in both sweet and savoury cooking, and its natural sourness is amazing for balancing dishes and providing a unique flavour.

I also really love Geraldton wax. The flavour’s incredible and, again, it’s great to use in both sweet and savoury dishes.


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