mount zero hero | elise pulbrook

mount zero hero | elise pulbrook

Elise Pulbrook has a long and deep connection to the humble olive. 

“When I was little, every Easter, I would go and pick olives with my nonna and great-grandmother. I have such strong memories of picking olives in Thomastown and Reservoir. We would collect them and then we would take them home to sort them.”

Elise’s whole life has had good seasonal food at its core. The lawyer, new mother and wedding caterer, is an advocate for the Slow Food Movement, a movement she found out about through the work of author and journalist, Simran Sethi and Sethi’s advocacy for biodiversity, and her book, Bread Wine Chocolate - the slow loss of foods that we love.

During her university years, Elise volunteered at Slow Food and continued her passion and interest by attending the famous Terra Madre Salone del Gusto, the biennial event in Turin, Italy that discusses a variety of issues centred around sustainability and ethics of our food systems and the future of food. 

“At Terra Madre, I spent most of my time at the olive oil stalls!” she laughs. “It’s a real love affair, we’ve even called our baby girl, Olive.” 

This dedication meant that we HAD to ask Elise to be this month’s Mount Zero Hero, and we’re thrilled she agreed to be involved. 

Elise’s work on MasterChef solidified our connection with her. “During the show, Mount Zero’s olive oil was in the pantry. There were other oils there but Mount Zero was the only one that I would use. I knew it and I loved the flavour and that it is local.” 

Moving into her wedding catering business, olive oil plays a big part in the menus. 

“Wedding catering was not something I thought I’d do, but I keep getting asked and I really enjoy it,” she says. “Part of our process is the consultation at the beginning of wedding planning and talking to the couple about their favourite food and family’s favourite food. 

Our menus are built around farmhouse Italian-style food so lots of fresh bread and Mount Zero Early Harvest Picual EVOO dresses the tables. Out of all the weddings we have done, only one has had butter on the table! And, being able to purchase Mount Zero on a wholesale basis is great for these big events.” 

The weddings are often in venues without a fixed chef, or perhaps in a paddock with a satellite kitchen. Elise employs her cousins as head waitresses and works closely with her clients to make it an intimate, quality and connected celebration of love! Love of good food, family and the couple! 

The recipe she has shared with us today is orecchiette with winter greens and almond crumbs, drizzled with our newly released 2024 season Mount Zero Early Harvest Picual EVOO. A perfect foil to the cold days and evenings ahead using our olive oil. 

Elise loves the Early Harvest Picual EVOO at home, too. 

“I’ve used the Yuzu Pressed EVOO on a canape and the Mandarin Pressed EVOO is wonderful in a citrus cake I like to bake. Through Slow Food, I discovered Burrum Biodynamics and I’ll often buy their Pearl Barley through Mount Zero and the Soup Mix. The soup mix is great for post-partum health and also very nostalgic, it reminds me of my mum and Nonna. 

She adds, “Being able to buy different types of oil from different olives is such a unique aspect of Mount Zero and in doing so they’re championing the conservation of olive varieties here.” 

the fast five

1. If you weren't working as a wedding caterer, what would you be doing?

Beyond my life in food I work as a litigation lawyer! 

2. Last place you dined out?

La Pinta in Reservoir for my birthday! I live around the corner and always have a great time.  

3. What's your favourite Victorian restaurant? 

I love so many restaurants in Victoria. Other than La Pinta, I also love Rosa's Canteen, Al Dente and Greasy Zoes! 

4. Favourite season/s of the year for produce? 

End of summer! When tomatoes are at their sweetest and figs are starting. 

5. Do you have any special projects scheduled for this year or beyond? 

I have a collaboration with the boys at Al Dente in the works! 


By Hilary McNevin 

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