There are two fundamental things Monty Koludrovic (head chef at Sydney’s Icebergs and executive chef at The Dolphin Hotel) relies on for everything he cooks: salt and olive oil. “The philosophy we operate with is: what you get out of your food is what you put in. If you start with shit oil and salt then it's pretty hard to get anything special at the other end.”

Unfortunately, there are a lot of bad oils on the market, he says. “A lot of less scrupulous operators will treat their oil to maximise yield. What ends up happening is the products will go rancid. Your standard Spanish and Italian supermarket olive oils, even when they're extra virgin, are so rancid they're horrible.”

Bad oil will be bitter, greasy, astringent or all of the above. “A genuine fresh virgin olive oil is such a fragrant, pleasant, non-greasy thing – you can sip it on its own. If you have one of these adulterated, bastardised olive oils and you do the same thing you'll want to gag.”

Koludrovic uses a specially made blend from Alto Olives, a local producer at the foot of Australia’s Great Dividing Range. It’s a mixture of Alto’s robust, earthy and more bitter oils and some of the mellow, smooth varieties. It’s available at a few retailers but is somewhat hard to find. “Not our blend, but others. I've been hassling them to submit it for awards, though, because it's so good.” For those who can’t get it, he also rates Cobram Estate. “They have a great commitment to quality; one of the important things is to crush your fruit as close to picking as possible. Their fruit is always crushed within two hours of picking, even though they have such a huge volume.”

Stockists:

Sydney:
Iggy’s Bread
Butcher and Farmer
Chrissy’s Cuts
Cornersmith
Harbord Fruit and Flowers
Brasserie Bread – Banksmeadow
Daily Fresh Randwick
Vic’s Meat Market at the Fish Markets

Melbourne:
Pickadeli

Perth:
Artisan Foods [only sold in 10L drums, call (08) 9227 5638]

Brisbane:
Sourced Grocer

In this series, we ask the best in the business what they can’t live without and where you can get it, too.

alto-olives.com.au/extra-virgin-olive-oils