The olive oil taster and consultant Antonio Lauro has for years believed that Southern Italy — including the famous olive oil-producing regions such as Calabria, Apulia and Sicily — was in need of its very own high-profile olive oil competition.
Now he says it will have just that, with Lauro at the helm of the new Domina International Olive Oil Contest (D-IOOC) to be held from May 13-17, 2016 in Palermo, Sicily.
“I have always thought that Southern Italy had to host its own competition and that it had to be a relevant one,” Lauro said. “There are some other awards such as Sirena d’Oro or Biol, but they are limited to specific categories, such as the Italian PDO or organic oils.”
Lauro said he aims for the new contest to become “the main European extra virgin olive oil competition,” open to Northern and Southern Hemisphere products and with five different categories: extra virgin olive oil, organic, PDO, single variety and blends.
His partners in this venture include Vinar, an Argentinian consulting company run by Raúl Castellani and his son Leonardo, who already manage other international competitions in Israel and Argentina, and the Domina hotel brand, which owns a number of properties located in Italy, including Milan, Palermo, Venice and Positano.
The Domina Milano Fiera Hotel will host the launch press conference on the October 23, to meet the national and international press gathered in Milan for the last week of Expo 2015.
The beautiful Domina Coral Bay Santa Fluvia, a few kilometers from Palermo, will host the competition and related events including guided tastings, a scientific conference dedicated to “oil, nutrition and health,” and a gala dinner and award ceremony.
On the last day, it will also be possible for attendees to taste the short-listed samples.
According to the organization about 200 samples are expected, mainly hailing from the Mediterranean area (Spain, Portugal, France, Turkey, Ciprus, Malta, Greece and Italy) and from the Middle East (Israel, Lebanon, Syria and the West Bank) but also from Overseas and the Southern Hemisphere, including North and South America and South Africa.
The jury will include Lauro himself, Barbara Alfei and Indra Galbo from Italy, Selin Ertür from Turkey, Brigida Jimènez from Spain, Cristina Stribacu from Greece, Miciyo Yamada from Japan and Taghreed Mohamed A. Shehadeh from Palestine.
Among the key points to distinguish D-IOOC from many other competitions, Lauro suggested, are the different relationships to be established within the participating producers, and an emphasis on the touristic potential of the event.
On the first point, Lauro said, “We hope that this first edition will only be the beginning of a new process of involvement and positive debate for producers. We want to invite them to join us for a four-day, full immersion of interaction, exchanges and reciprocity.”
“When the Domina management told me they were interested in the food and wine field, and that they wanted to aim for quality both for their usual offer and for new kinds of events, I immediately realized they were the ideal partner for the competition since they are an innovative, dynamic and proactive company,” Lauro said.
Illustrating the point, the hotel will be creating a specific “olive oil enthusiast” package to give visitors the chance to partake in the competition by joining tastings, conferences and meetings, while enjoying the breathtaking beauty of the Sicilian island.