Business

New Olive Oil Consumer's Guide in Holland

Wilma van Grinsven-Padberg wants to make consumers as enthusiastic about olive oil as she is.

Wilma van Grinsven-Padberg
Nov. 5, 2018
By Daniel Dawson
Wilma van Grinsven-Padberg

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Wilma van Grinsven-Padberg is an olive oil enthu­si­ast turned cer­ti­fied som­me­lier. The latest man­i­fes­ta­tion of her pas­sion for olive oil comes in the form of a new book: The Olive Oil Masterclass.

When I came back from the som­me­lier course, where I learned how to find good olive oil, won­der­ful good oil, that really changed my life.- Wilma van Grinsven-Padberg

In it, she attempts to answer some basic ques­tions about olive oil while pro­vid­ing a com­pre­hen­sive tast­ing guide for con­sumers.

Grinsven-Padberg did not grow up on a family farm, strolling through the shade of olive trees. Nor did she find her pas­sion for olive oil through cook­ing or trav­el­ing as a young woman. In fact, all of what she does now, from giving olive oil mas­ter­classes to writ­ing this book, came out of sheer hap­pen­stance.

“Eleven years ago, my part­ners and I bought a com­pany in trou­ble and the com­pany hap­pened to be Oil & Vinegar, so I knew noth­ing about olive oil before that,” she told Olive Oil Times, refer­ring to the Oil & Vinegar chain of gourmet spe­cialty shops.

“I had received olive oil bot­tles for my birth­day and I put them in my kitchen because I loved to look at them,” Grinsven-Padberg added. “I never used them. Never. I was scared to use them. I had no clue how to use them prop­erly. I was 49 years old when I dis­cov­ered I had this love for olive oil.”

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That dis­cov­ery began when she attended the Olive Oil Sommelier Certification Program in February 2017.

Now buying, sell­ing and talk­ing about olive oil makes up most of what Grinsven-Padberg does for a living. She is cur­rently the buying direc­tor for Oil & Vinegar and gives olive oil mas­ter­classes in her spare time.

“When I came back from the som­me­lier course, where I learned how to find good olive oil, won­der­ful good oil, that really changed my life,” she said. “That course really moti­vated me to write the book.”

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Grinsven-Padberg’s enthu­si­asm for olive oil grew from there and she wanted to share this enthu­si­asm with the rest of the world. So far, she has imparted her knowl­edge with every­one who has signed up for her courses, from curi­ous people to chefs from Michelin star restau­rants.

“The thing about restau­rants is they do not use good olive oil,” she said. “It’s gen­er­ally Arbequina and you are lucky if it has no defects, so they don’t have any knowl­edge about good olive oil.”

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Then another serendip­i­tous moment came Grinsven-Padberg’s way, which would lead to her writ­ing The Olive Oil Masterclass.

“I was explain­ing this [about the olive oil in restau­rants] to some­body and that some­body con­tacted the pub­lisher,” Grinsven-Padberg said. “She made us con­tact each other and the pub­lisher was quite enthu­si­as­tic about me writ­ing this book because in the Netherlands, Germany and Belgium there are not very many books about olive oil.”

The Olive Oil Masterclass was orig­i­nally writ­ten in Dutch, which is Grinsven-Padberg’s native lan­guage. The book will also be pub­lished in English, French and German, allow­ing it to reach a large number of north­ern Europeans, who rep­re­sent a rapidly grow­ing market for olive oil in Europe.

In the book, Grinsven-Padberg begins with a brief his­tory of olive oil then describes how it is made, before going on to explain how to taste olive oil and dis­tin­guish the good from the bad.

“What I did in the book was, I know a lot of people in the indus­try, so when I thought that I could ask some­body who has really good knowl­edge, I use that to sup­ple­ment what I’ve writ­ten in the book,” she said.

The book serves as a com­pre­hen­sive con­sumer guide for olive oil dis­cussing con­cepts such as how olio nov­ello dif­fers from reg­u­lar extra virgin olive oil; the olive fly and dis­eases; olive oil rules, reg­u­la­tions and fraud; health ben­e­fits of olive oil accord­ing to a car­di­ol­o­gist; and pro­vides some pair­ing sug­ges­tions toward the end.

Wilma van Grinsven-Padberg at the Olive Oil Sommelier Certification Course in New York

“The last chap­ter talks about all the com­pe­ti­tions and describes which com­pe­ti­tion is the best one,” Grinsven-Padberg said. “ If you have a bottle of olive oil with a com­pe­ti­tion logo on it, you can see where the com­pe­ti­tion ranks on a scale.”

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Grinsven-Padberg has been very pleased with how the process of writ­ing the book went. She was pleas­antly sur­prised by how easy it was for her to write it, occa­sion­ally receiv­ing inspi­ra­tion in the middle of the night.

She is still unsure of what she will do once the book is pub­lished, but for now, her plan is to keep host­ing mas­ter­classes and con­tin­u­ing to create enthu­si­asm for olive oil.

“I’m over­whelmed by the atten­tion that I received right now already,” Grinsven-Padberg said.

“[Yesterday I had] 160 people in my mas­ter­class who want to know what I know and why I do what I did, so there is some­thing in the air,” she added. “Olive oil is becom­ing more and more impor­tant to people and they are real­iz­ing that start­ing to use olive oil is very taste­ful and healthy.”