Food & Beverage


Melbourne, Victoria

Even in primary school, Jo Barrett knew she wanted to become a chef. From 15 and on, she pursued one apprenticeship after another, in and outside of her native Australia, to become a virtual sponge of culinary skills. But it is sustainability-driven cooking that ultimately became her bread and butter.

Jo sees beyond the food on her plate. For her, food should be a part of a bigger solution. While she may have cut her teeth baking on an international stage, she quickly forayed this recognition into a seat at the table of sustainable kitchens. And she’s been conceiving innovative ways to grow and prepare food that make for a greener future ever since. From taking up a residency at the very first zero-waste and self-sustaining home in Melbourne, to developing a greenhouse and menu for an ecotourism concept in Tasmania, Jo’s resumé is littered with projects that challenge her to find food solutions near and far from home. It’s this particular brand of dedication to a better tomorrow that makes us proud to call Jo one of our own.

“Jo Barrett is one of the finest young chefs around full stop; she is deeply invested in the future of cooking where sustainability and ethics will be as important as deliciousness. In my mind she represents the best combination of pure talent I've seen in many years.."  
Ben Shewry – Chef, Attica

Where is your favourite culinary region or city?

I’m going to have to say country because Italy really hits the nail on the head for me. Localised, produce-driven food that’s driven by tradition and the region it comes from. The importance Italians place on the preparation and consumption of food is at the forefront of life. I love that!

Tell us about a perfect culinary day there

My perfect culinary day would be spent on the beach diving and flying fishing with my friends. We would collect, forage, and catch, then light a fire. I love fermenting and preserving, so of course, adding different vinegars, pickles, powders, and sauces to our haul. For me, this is the most delicious, respectful, and satisfying way to cook.

At what age did you know you would be a chef?

I feel I was born wanting to be a chef, and I have loved it my whole career. I love produce, the skill of preparing different dishes and sharing food. There is so much history and culture tied up with food, I never stop learning. I have had the opportunity to travel and connect with some incredible people.

How do you up your game year after year?

It's interesting, because there are so many ways to approach performance. For me, it has been an open mind, and a mindset that I want to learn. I've really enjoyed that approach the last few years. I'm trying to continually look for weaknesses and ways to get better - not just with surfing, but with anything I'm doing, or any part of life. With surfing, it's helped me to improve, but I'm finding I also enjoy it more at the same time.

If you could do anything better what would it be?

Have a more positive impact on the ocean and earth.

Who are your heroes? Who do you look up to?

My Mom has been a pretty incredible influence for my brothers and I. I also find myself looking up to people who aren't afraid to push the limits at what they do - people who go outside their comfort zone.

What haven't you accomplished that you aspire to do in your lifetime?
Sail around the Pacific.

What part of you, or what you do, reflects a spirit of restlessness?

The ocean.

If there is any love-hate relationship with any aspect of what you do, can you describe what that is?
The negative impact we have on the ocean is big. I know I am a part of it. There are parts of surfing and things I do every day that are harmful to the ocean and we all should look at how we can keep it healthy.

Who are your heroes? Who do you look up to?

Jamie Oliver is my hero. He has had an incredible influence on making good food more approachable for people. Stephanie Alexander and Maggie Beer — Australian icons! They are both my heroes, too, not just for their cooking but their work ethic. They have worked hard at what they believe and achieved amazing things. I believe if you want something, you can make it happen with hard work and discipline.

Who is someone that you could not do all this without?

The farmers who grow and raise ethical, delicious produce. They are the real superstars as well as a great team. Running a restaurant takes a lot of people. Having a solid team working together for a common goal is really rewarding and how you get stuff done.

How do you improve as a chef each year?

I love learning, so naturally, I feel I am always seeking out information that helps me grow as a chef. At the moment I am spending time on a farm learning about food products on a larger scale. I care about the environment, so I think it’s important to have an understanding about all areas of food. This will help me make more informed decisions down the track and, hopefully, a better chef.

What haven’t you accomplished that you aspire to do?

I would love to have the time to work on ideas about food wastage in our farming system. A lot of food doesn’t make it off farms due to the look of it, market value, over-ripeness, etc. I would love to sue this produce to make revenue streams for the farmers who have grown it, use up the “waste” with amazing products, and prevent it from going into the landfill. Then, the proceeds could go to providing people with food security problems with nourishing food. This has been in the cards of years, and one day I will make it happen.

Where will we find you on your days off?

I would be on a river or on the beach fly fishing. I would throw in some exercise and lots of coffee.

If you weren’t a culinary ambassador, what kind of YETI Ambassador would you be?

Fly fishing hahaha!....I can dream.

What ingredient do you love?

Eggs. They are an incredibly versatile ingredient for both sweet and savory cooking.

I am happiest when I am preparing my meal with___?

I am happiest when I am preparing a meal with an open fire.

What are the three most essential things you need in the kitchen?

Salt, oil, and a tea towel.

What would you be if you weren’t a chef?

I would be a vegetable farmer or a florist.

If you could hang with any chef, past or present, who would it be?
Mark La Brooy, 100%! We have the best adventures and the best cook ups!

Why do chefs need gear that is Built for the Wild?

Food is an important part (and a lot of time, the focus) for an adventure in the wild. Keeping ingredients at their best is important in producing a delicious meal and reducing any potential waste from poor storage. It’s so nice to prepare a meal knowing your ingredients are at their prime. Chefs work and cook hard — we need equipment that does the same that is reliable.

Can you describe what YETI means to you?

You know that feeling you get when you have to put the rubbish out and it’s on your mind all day? Then, you get home, and someone else has done it for you, plus washed the dishes. Its’a feeling of pure joy, gratefulness, and you know that person has your back. That’s the same feeling I get from using YETI; It does what it has to do, but it does it so well you can relax because that part has been taken care of.

What YETI gear can you not do without?

I am a massive fan of a YETI GoBox. Chefs love to be organised. A set up GoBox is like having a pantry on the road. I set one up with utensils and cookware. Another one holds all my staples: ferments and preserves. I know with those two boxes, no matter where I go or what I catch or collect, I'll be able to prepare a delicious meal. Traveling for cooking events can be really stressful with so many things to organise. Having the GoBoxes always packed for a quick getaway has been a lifesaver.

Also with the heat of a kitchen there is nothing worse than a hot water bottle when you're cooking in-front of the stove. The YETI water bottle has been an absolute game changer for me and my chefs.

What YETI product allows you to do something you could not easily do before?

I have been able to take more temperature sensitive ingredients camping because I know they will actually stay cold. I also have been making yogurt in the 12 oz Bottle with Hotshot Cap.