Andrew Benin’s upstart, Graza, has momentum rarely seen in a notoriously crowded and challenging marketplace.
Andrew Benin’s upstart, Graza, has momentum rarely seen in a notoriously crowded and challenging marketplace.
Raised in the Sierra Foothills, Kevin O’Connor developed a love for gathering, hunting, foraging and cooking at a young age. Starting in fine dining at the age of fourteen, he has over twelve years of experience in some of California’s best restaurants. No matter his venture, he strives to find a real connection to the food he cooks and the places it comes from. An avid forager and adventurist, he always prefers an open fire to a stove. He cooks from the heart, with respect for the ingredients, keeping his flavors simple, clean and delicious. Now as Cobram Estate’s Chef at Large, Kevin follows the harvest between California and Australia, cooking with super fresh olive oil.
Rose Malindretos is the director of marketing for Oliviers & Company (also known as O&Co.) the worldwide purveyor of Mediterranean specialty foods. Rose spoke with Olive Oil Times publisher Curtis Cord about olive oil retailing in New York’s Grand Central Station, where her team has just minutes to introduce shoppers to the tastes of high-quality olive oils.
Just five years ago, a group of neighboring farmers in Sierra de Cazorla, Spain decided to work together and produce high-quality olive oil with respect for the environment.
Since then, their Dehesa de la Sabina monovarietal Picual has garnered critical acclaim including, this year, the Best in Class Award at the New York International Olive Oil Competition.
The members of La Olivilla are determined to do more than creating a world-class product, however. They are showing their community a better way to farm that restores nature’s delicate balance and setting an example for a new generation.
Fernando Herrera is the vice president of marketing for Deoleo, the world leader in sales of bottled olive oil. The Córdoba-based multinational recently underwent yet another restructuring amid years of losses and says it has a renewed focus on quality.
Three of its limited-edition brands were recently awarded at the New York International Olive Oil Competition. NYIOOC president and Olive Oil Times publisher, Curtis Cord spoke with Herrera to see if the wins signaled a real commitment to delivering the quality consumers expect in extra virgin olive oils.
Karim Fitouri is a producer who wants to see Tunisia recognized as a place that makes great olive oils. He spoke with Curtis Cord after a week in New York developing his tasting skills at the Olive Oil Sommelier Certification Course at the International Culinary Center.
Eryn Balch is the executive vice president of the North American Olive Oil Association, the trade group representing the largest olive oil importers. Balch’s office recently sued TV’s Dr. Oz for what it called “his false and careless words that have discouraged millions of people from using a product with scientifically demonstrated advantages.”
Viknesh Silvalingam, who goes by the pseudonym, S. Viknesh, is the producer and director of Cold Pressed, a 90-minute crime thriller centered around olive oil adulteration. The movie is currently in post-production and is expected to be released through streaming services later this year.
Rafael Marchetti produces olive oil for his family’s company, Tecnoplanta, which offers turnkey investment opportunities in Brazil’s growing olive oil sector. He spoke with Olive Oil Times publisher, Curtis Cord about Brazil’s economic situation, making quality olive oil and the unique challenges he faces amid a growing demand for quality foods.
Mario Rizzotti is a Chicago-based Italian culinary expert, brand ambassador and television personality. He most recently served a judge on the Food Network’s Iron Chef America.
On the eve of his retirement after 36 years with the University of California, expert olive oil taster, international consultant and NYIOOC judge Paul Vossen spoke with Curtis Cord about olive oil production, tasting techniques and his work with farmers in every region of the olive-growing world.
International Olive Council executive director Abdellatif Ghedira told Olive Oil Times publisher, Curtis Cord, he aims to respond better to the expectations of the member countries by strengthening the capacity and resources of the IOC and see consumers in non-member countries lobby their governments to join the IOC Agreement.
Chad is the dry grocery commodity buyer for Costco Bay Area, working on increasing rotations and diversity of extra virgin olive oils from Spain, Greece, and California.
He is part of Costco’s national olive oil buying team, and works with the industry to educate members of the world’s second-largest retailer about olive oil. In addition to large-scale national buy opportunities, Chad seeks out small, high-quality suppliers to increase item selection and diversity.
Chad recently began serving as a retail representative to the California Organic Product Advisory Committee.
The name Steve Jenkins is synonymous with guru, expert, and savant in the world of Mediterranean foodstuffs. For more than 30 years he introduced countless delicacies to New Yorkers (and subsequently the rest of the United States) by pioneering the importation of traditional and artisanal foods to the wildly successful Fairway Markets.
Nancy Harmon Jenkins is a food writer and journalist with a passionate interest in Mediterranean cultures and cuisines, sustainable agriculture, and farm-to-market connections. She began writing about food in various parts of the Mediterranean in 1975, and has a long list of publications to her credit. Her latest book is: Virgin Territory: Exploring the World of Olive Oil.
Record-breaking droughts, fruit flies that survive unusually mild winters to ravage in the spring, and pathogen outbreaks, like the one in Puglia that has claimed more than a million olive trees.
It might seem like climate change could spell the end of the olive oil world, but not so fast, says Luigi Ponti, a research scientist at Italy’s National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development.
His research on the effect of warmer temperatures on the olive sector has been published in scientific journals and provides a valuable framework for continued studies on this important topic. And like so many complicated issues, when we ask, what will climate change mean to olive oil producers around the world? The short answer is: well, that depends.
Based in California, Alexandra Kicenik Devarenne is an international olive oil consultant and educator focusing on olive oil sensory education, communication, and quality improvement. She is cofounder of Extra Virgin Alliance (EVA), an international non-profit trade association with members in fourteen countries that is dedicated to promoting quality authentic extra virgin olive oil.
Starting with research and outreach at UC Cooperative Extension, she has written on many aspects of olive oil for both popular and scholarly publications, and is the author of the pocket reference book Olive Oil: A Field Guide. She is a member of the American Oil Chemists’ Society expert committee on olive oil, and cooperates with AOCS and others in the USA and abroad on olive oil research projects. An official taste panel member since 2003, she has taught olive oil tasting classes at numerous venues, including international conferences, Olive Oil Sommeliers of Japan, California State Fair, Culinary Institute of America, LA County Fair and UC Davis.
She serves as a judge and advisor for various California and international olive oil competitions and is chair of the Napa Valley Olive Oil Competition.
Rajneesh Bhasin is the president of the India Olive Association and managing director of Borges India Private Limited; a fully owned subsidiary of Borges S.A.
Rajneesh heads the India operations for Borges and is responsible for establishing it as a leading player in the olive oil category by building a strong pan India distribution network for Borges and supporting the same through brand launches, promotions, which will in turn help build consumer franchise for both the category and the brand.
Diane Kochilas is the author of Ikaria: Lessons on Food, Life, and Longevity from the Island Where People Forget to Die.
Diane appears regularly on American television. She has been a guest on the “Today Show,” “Fox News at 5,” “Martha Stewart,” “Throwdown with Bobby Flay,” “Bizarre Foods,” “Foodography,” the “PBS News Hour,” and “360° w/Anderson Cooper.” Her writings appear in major international media outlets, such as the New York Times, Washington Post, Dow Jones wire, Food & Wine, Gourmet Live, zesterdaily.com and more.
She runs the Glorious Greek Kitchen cooking school on her native Greek island, Ikaria, which is one of the world’s Blue Zones, places where longevity rates are unusually high.
With his groundbreaking article in The New Yorker and then a highly acclaimed book Extra Virginity: The Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil, author Tom Mueller has more than anyone else exposed the dark side of the olive oil business and the need for change. And not much has — with allegations of corruption and fraud in today’s headlines continuing to turn people away confused and distrustful. We spoke with Tom at his home in Liguria.
When you think of extra virgin olive oil, does Argentina come to mind? It should. Argentina Olive Group Director Frankie Gobbee says the South American country’s the third largest exporter of extra virgin olive oil in bulk and the conditions are just right for the emergence of a new global olive oil superpower. Lots of lands, a dedicated work force, a perfect climate and then there are those Andes.
Curious and innovative, renowned Spanish chef Maria San Román dedicates a great part of her time to investigating products that are native to Spanish gastronomy such as saffron, a product on which she is considered an international expert. She is a champion of the qualities of extra virgin olive oils, involved in the ‘OliveToLive’ project which promotes a dispenser that conserves the qualities of EVOOs in premium condition.
Together with her husband José Perramón, they are proprietors of the Grupo Gourmet Alicante, a gastronomic project founded in 1975 which has continuously evolved, garnering a successful role in Alicante’s hospitality offering. The Monastrell restaurant has received a Michelin star.
Giuseppe Taibi is a tech entrepreneur and a 4th-generation olive oil producer from Sicily.
While pursuing an advanced degree in engineering in Boston some time ago, Giuseppe met the woman would be his wife, but couldn’t find anywhere in the city an olive oil that would satisfy his desires.
It wasn’t long before Giuseppe had 700 bottles of his family’s Biancolilla and Nocellara del Belice monovarietal extra virgin olive oils at the Port of Boston — and he set out to introduce the tastes of his homeland to a skeptical city.
Now, his award-winning brand, Olio Taibi is sold throughout the Boston area and beyond. And it’s in Boston that we find Giuseppe today, having just returned from the harvest at his family farm in Sicily.