FEVOO: Fresh Extra Virgin Olive Oil Festival

The FEVOO (Fresh Extra Virgin Olive Oil) festival celebrated the Australian olive oil industry in an inaugural event that united growers, producers, industry experts, consumers and media.

Held at The Mint in Sydney, the event included a sensory masterclass, panel discussions, canapés and olive oil tastings followed by a charity auction that raised $13,000 for the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation.

FEVOO Masterclass

FEVOO set to dispel some myths about Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Sensory expert Dr Richard Gawel explained that there is a common belief that “extra virgin” refers to the oil obtain from first pressed olives. This process may have been used in the 1970s but olive oil is now obtained by using a centrifuge where the pressure releases the oil from the solids resulting in a fresher and a higher quality product with less oxygenation hence is retains more health benefits.

He further explained that the best way to taste oil is at slightly warmer than room temperature, by holding a short cup in the palm of one’s hand and swirling it until it gets a little warm. Sip it then grit the teeth and suck it through.

Five different oils were on taste demonstrating the various flavour profiles in the olive oil tasting wheel such as grassy, fruity, muddy and spicy to name a few.

ABC 702’s Simon Marnie, a judge for the Royal Agricultural Society chaired a panel discussion of industry experts: Dr Richard Gawel – sensory expert, Professor Rod Mailer – former principal research scientist and current adjunct professor at Charles Sturt University, Dr Joanna McMillan – dietician and nutritionist, Dr Leandro Ravetti – agricultural engineer and head of Modern Olives technical team and Stephanie Alexander OAM – renowned celebrity chef, restaurateur and author.

Panel Discussion *

A grower panel discussion followed with representatives from Cobram Estate, Cradle Coast Olives, Alto Olives, Gwydir Olives, Camilo Olives, Pukara Estate, Nullamunjie Olives, Rosto Grove, Chapman River Olives, Wollundry Grove, Woodlands Olive Grove, Longridge Olives and Rylstone Olive Press before Lyndey Milan, food and wine identity gave her tips on using olive oil. Canapés were served at the end of the session with an olive-oil menu created by Lyndey in collaboration with Trippas White Group.

Key points of the seminar:

  • Olives can produce a range of flavours depending on when they’re picked.
  • Extra virgin olive oil is the only oil that has not been chemically or physically refined.
  • Australians consume 2 litres of olive oil a year compared to the Greeks who consume 26 litres per year.
  • Tests conducted by Choice in 2010 revealed that half of 28 brands of EVOO sold in supermarkets failed to meet international standards.
  • 70% of Australian consumers are buying imported olive oil.
  • Olive oil can be used for deep frying then reused up to 10 times.
  • With various styles of olive oil, eg mild to robust, it is important to match what is cooking to the right oil.

Guests were free to mingle and chat to the producers as they helped themselves to tastings of the new season’s oils at the olive oil bar.

L-R: Leandro Ravetti (Cobram Estate) , Stephanie Alexander, Jayne Bentivoglio (Rylstone Olive Press)*

The event concluded with a charity auction led by Stuart Gregor with proceeds going to the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation. $10,000 was raised for the 1.5L magnum bottle ‘Trio’ from Cobram Estate, Australia’s most award-winning olive oil. The lucky bidder was Andrew Pridham, incoming chairman of the Sydney Swans.

The FEVOO festival was held at The Mint on Wednesday 10 July, 2013.

* Photo credit: FEVOO


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About the author

Corinne Mossati

Corinne Mossati is the Founder/Editor of popular online magazine Gourmantic and Cocktails & Bars, a website dedicated to cocktail culture and the discerning drinker. She is named in Australian Bartender Magazine’s Top 100 Most Influential List since 2013, is a member of The Academy responsible for judging the World’s 50 Best Bars. She has also judged the inaugural Australasian Whisky Awards and various national cocktail competitions.