Olive Oil Times Contributors


Elena Paravantes, Athens
Elena Paravantes is a Greek-American registered dietitian, food and nutrition consultant and freelance writer based in Athens Greece. With over 15 years experience in the field of nutrition she has a personal as well as a professional interest in the Mediterranean diet and its application. Her work has appeared in several US and Greek publications, she was the Food and Nutrition Editor for the Greek editions of  Prevention and Men’s Health Magazines and teaches nutrition at the American College of Greece. She is active in the international dietetic community as a board member of the American Overseas Dietetic Association, representative for the European Federation of the Association of Dietitians and an active member of the American Dietetic Association and the Hellenic Dietetic Association.

Julie Butler, Barcelona
Julie is an Australian with insatiable curiosity – an asset in her former life as a newspaper journalist and in her ongoing discovery of the wonderful world of olive oil. She came to Barcelona in 2003 to study Spanish and is now learning Catalan.

Alexandra Kicenik Devarenne, Sonoma, California
Alexandra Kicenik Devarenne is an olive oil consultant and educator based in California. While at the University of California Cooperative Extension, she worked on research in many aspects of olive oil production and sensory evaluation. Alexandra is a trained olive oil taster and belongs to both the UCCE Research Taste Panel and the UC Davis Taste Panel. She also judges olive oil for competitions. She teaches classes for both producers and consumers on all aspects of olive oil appreciation and production. Alexandra coauthored many papers and publications while at the UC, including two chapters of the Organic Olive Production Manual, and now writes freelance about olives and olive oil. Alexandra is a member of the advisory board of the UC Davis Olive Center and serves as the California coordinator for Association 3E, an organization that promotes excellence in olive oil.

Sarah Schwager, Buenos Aires
Sarah is an Australian journalist with seven years’ experience in the industry. She started off as a reporter at a local newspaper company, eventually becoming the sole journalist responsible for one of its top papers. She then spent two years writing for a leading Australian and NZ industry magazine before packing her bags and embarking on a trip around South America. She now lives in Argentina where she works as an editor and journalist.

Marissa Tejada Benekos, Athens
Originally from New York, Marissa Tejada Benekos is a freelance journalist now based in Greece where she is also the managing partner and editor for, an independent media services agency.  With Athens as a home base, Greece has proved to be a great inspiration to help Marissa explore her favorite topics including culture, art, travel and food..

Lindsey Partos, Paris
Lindsey’s knowledge – and love – of olive oil began as a food-obsessed foreign student in Italy. Thirsty to learn more about the green-hued, peppery olive oil, she spent days trawling markets, shops and even olive oil trade shows. As a food business journalist in southern France Lindsey visited olive orchards, pressing factories, laboratories and countless olive oil tastings.

Umut Egitimci, Istanbul
An independent filmmaker and freelance writer/video journalist with 16 years of experience in media, she has produced and hosted several programs for Turkish televisions and currently hosts a food and travel show on TRT (Turkish National Radio& TV) Avaz television. She has also produced two off-off Broadway shows (I, Anatolia & 1001 New York Nights) in New York City and one (Wall) as a part of 15th International Theater Festival in Istanbul.  Read more about Umut Egitimci on her website.

Penelope Barker, Sydney
From feature writer for Cosmopolitan to editor of Australia’s leading architecture and commercial interiors magazine, Penelope Barker had a stellar career in magazine publishing in Sydney for many years. She now lives by the beach in the beautiful Shoalhaven region of New South Wales and has a recent new arrival in her backyard – a huge gray kangaroo she has dubbed Boris. Penelope loves to write about food and travel, preferably combining both, and has written articles on many of Australia’s most passionate artisanal food producers..

Lori Zanteson, Los Angeles
A food and health writer for more than ten years, Lori’s work has appeared in a variety of publications including Today’s Dietician, QSR magazine, and Environmental Nutrition for whom she is also a contributing editor. In love with fine food, that’s almost always in the name of great health, olive oil is her current obsession. Read more about Lori at

Joëlle Laffitte, Paris
Joëlle Laffitte is an American expatriate in Paris, where she is a regular at her local farmer’s market. She is a freelance writer and self-taught cook who has a great passion for the French way of life, and has never refused a glass of wine. Joëlle lives with her husband Richard, and her very large but agile cat, Mr. F. Puss. More of her recipes and anecdotes can be found on her blog.

Liz Tagami, Ashland, Florence and Shanghai
Liz is a food lover and visionary merchant with over 25 years of experience as a senior executive for top US retailers, such as Williams-Sonoma, Cost Plus World Market, and Harry & David.  Today, Liz runs Tagami International, LLC an international brokerage for specialty food and wine.  She also operates Tagami Sourcing & Services, LLC, which provides management consulting and factory sourcing  for retailers, importers and manufacturers in the US, Europe and Asia.

Chris Canty, Melbourne
Chris has been a journalist for over 10 years, writing for over 30 publications worldwide and focusing on a broad range of travel related topics. He is Australian and has traveled extensively, at one time calling Scotland, Estonia, Vietnam, England and Argentina home. He has a real passion for the food and beverage industry (especially craft beer) and enjoys meeting the people behind the scenes who devote their lives producing extraordinary products.

Lucy Vivante, Rome
Vivante Drawings is where Lucy blogs about old master drawings. She also writes for The Berkshire Review for the Arts.

Emily Monaco, New York
I am an experienced food writer and have been maintaining my own food blog, Tomato Kumato, for the past four years. I have also written several freelance food articles and have been a guest food writer at sites such as Accidental Hedonist and I Prefer Paris.

Daniel Williams, Barcelona

Megan Gordon, San Francisco
I’m a freelance food writer based in San Francisco writing for a variety of local publications and a few national travel magazines. From chef interviews to ingredient theme pieces, I cover many aspects of the food scene here in the Bay Area.

Trafton Kenney, Paris
A recent graduate of Colgate University with a bachelor’s degree in History. Trafton has been living in Paris writing about food and travel.

Sophia Markoulakis, San Francisco
I have been a frequent contributor to the San Francisco Chronicle for many years and a recipe developer where my recipes have been published in several Safeway publications. With a name like mine, well, needless to say, I am surrounded by olive oil from the moment I wake up until the last of the dinner dishes are washed and put away. I am partial to Greek olive oil, but love to experiment with varietals and diverse growing regions.

Lara Camozzo, Florence
Having spent her childhood family vacations in Venice, Lara developed an insatiable passion for food and wine, travel, and the Italian way of life. Over the years she continued to vacation and study in Italy, each time confirming her love for Italian culture and cuisine and her unwillingness to live without it. Upon graduating from the College of Charleston, with a degree in International Business and Italian Studies in one hand, and her Italian passport in the other, she packed her bags and left for Italy. Currently living in Florence, Lara blogs about her culinary adventures and writes as a freelancer for various publications. She steals away to Venice as often as possible.

Cristabelle Tumola, New York
Editor for Italian Cooking & Living magazine and Gourmet Cooking & Living.

Gita Narrayani, Kolkata
Gita is a freelance writer and communications consultant based in Kolkata, India.

Will Dunn, Barcelona
Will Dunn is a freelance writer from England. Last year, he quit rainy London for Barcelona, with plans to spend a year or so eating xipirones, drinking cava and drenching his bread in good Spanish oil. When he arrived, it was raining.

Scott Stavrou, Paros, Greece.
Stavrou is a professional freelance writer and the author of the travel guidebook ‘Wasted Away: The Worldwide Party Guide,’ and has long specialized in food, wine & travel writing to support these very same pursuits. In addition to eating and drinking in excess, he is one of the founders of European Escapes, a European villa rental agency which makes it possible for others to enjoy these very same pleasures abroad. Born among butter-people in the Midwest, he now lives on Paros, Greece,surrounded by vineyards and olive groves, and like some of the very finest Greek olive oil, doesn’t ever get too far from the groves.