Business

An Award to Promote Olive Oil Culture in Spain

Contestants can submit projects about the environment of olive oil, new technologies, history, gastronomy, and heritage conservation, among others.

Feb. 6, 2018
By Daniel Dawson

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The Agustín Serés Memorial Award rec­og­nizes indi­vid­ual and col­lec­tive efforts to pro­mote, dis­sem­i­nate and memo­ri­al­ize olive oil cul­ture in Spain.

Entries for the ninth edi­tion of the award are now open and will be accepted until March 19.

I still think that the cul­ture of olive oil is really an unre­solved issue for the cit­i­zens of this coun­try.- Paco Lorenzo

“There are many awards ded­i­cated to rec­og­niz­ing the qual­i­ties of olive oil in our coun­try and world­wide, but it is excep­tional to rec­og­nize the cul­ture of oil and the per­sonal effort put into making it,” Paco Lorenzo, one of the judges of this year’s com­pe­ti­tion and the winner of the first edi­tion, said.

“In fact, I still think that the cul­ture of olive oil is really an unre­solved issue for the cit­i­zens of this coun­try,” he added.

Lorenzo was unan­i­mously selected as the winner of the 2010 con­test for his book, Museos del Aceite en España (Olive Oil Museums of Spain), for which he vis­ited 88 olive oil muse­ums through­out the coun­try, dis­cussing cul­ture and his­tory through pho­tographs.

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Lorenzo did not enter the con­test that year, but the Serés Santamaria family, who spon­sor the event, unan­i­mously decided to award him the prize for his 2008 book.

“We already knew about Dr. Lorenzo’s work and trav­els around Spain look­ing for olive oil resources for some time,” Agustín Serés said. “The book is unique in its kind in our coun­try.”

Serés is a doctor but grew up on an olive oil mill in an area of north­east­ern Spain with a rich olive oil her­itage.

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“I was born in Alpicat, Lérida, in the heart of Segrià, in a family that had a small oil mill, one of the four that the town had then,” he said. “That little oil mill is now a museum ded­i­cated to the cul­ture of olive oil. From this arises my link with our ances­tral olive oil cul­ture.”

Serés Sr pro­duced olive oil at the mill with very lim­ited resources, which was typ­i­cal at the time. As olive oil pro­duc­tion shifts toward larger oper­a­tions, Serés Jr uses these awards to pre­vent this past from becom­ing for­got­ten.

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“I wanted to know the per­sonal effort that my father made could be pre­served along with our family her­itage for the enjoy­ment of others,” he said. “[I also wanted these awards] to cover a space in the cul­ture of olive oil in the Segrià region that has always been an olive-grow­ing region.”

The Serés Santamaria family now work with Lorenzo and Olearum, of which he is pres­i­dent, to award the €1,000 prize each year.

This year, con­tes­tants will be able to submit projects about the envi­ron­ment of olive oil, new tech­nolo­gies, his­tory, gas­tron­omy, and her­itage con­ser­va­tion, among others. However, some­times other fac­tors, such as the entry’s social com­mit­ment, can be the decid­ing factor.

“Last year’s edi­tion was very dis­puted, in the end, there were two entries tied, but one of them had a greater social com­mit­ment, par­tic­u­larly with people with dis­abil­i­ties and that decided the bal­ance,” Lorenzo said.

Colival, an olive oil coop­er­a­tive based in Valdepeñas, won the award for their oleo­tourism pro­gram, which was aimed at inform­ing chil­dren about the health, organolep­tic and gas­tro­nomic virtues of extra-virgin olive oil.

“We thought that it was a project that could be adopted by mul­ti­ple com­pa­nies and coop­er­a­tives in our coun­try,” Lorenzo said. “The dif­fer­en­ti­at­ing factor was that it worked exten­sively to spread olive oil cul­ture and included people with dis­abil­i­ties in the project.”

Normally between five and 10 projects are pre­sented each year. Projects may be re-entered, but win­ning projects can not. According to Lorenzo, sev­eral projects that have won did so on their second try.

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Serés is look­ing for­ward to this year’s entrants, both old and new. Since he began giving out the awards in 2010, Serés said he has noticed a revival in olive oil cul­ture in the region.

“The award-win­ning projects are a mag­nif­i­cent exam­ple that with little means, you can achieve mag­nif­i­cent and suc­cess­ful goals that exem­plify the cul­ture of olives and olive oil,” he said.

Contestants can send a com­pleted entry form via email to [email protected]