Cobram Estate Chef Showcases New World Olive Oils in London

Kevin O'Connor was in London for a two-week residency at the Carousel restaurant, where he highlighted the versatility and delicious nature of various olive oils in his world-class cooking.

Jul. 29, 2019
By Daniel Dawson

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Kevin O’Connor has just wrapped up his sec­ond week of olive oil-themed cook­ing at the London Carousel restau­rant.

The Cobram Estate chef-at-large com­pleted a two-week res­i­dency at the well-regarded restau­rant, where he demon­strated the ver­sa­til­ity and deli­cious pos­si­bil­i­ties of cook­ing with olive oil.

There was that first big break­through of learn­ing how to cook with (extra vir­gin olive oil) because I was like many chefs today, think­ing that it’s just for driz­zling, fin­ish­ing and dip­ping.- Kevin O’Connor, chef-at-large at Cobram Estate

It’s been very well received,” O’Connor told Olive Oil Times. I’d say a lot of Londoners are sur­prised and delighted by New World olive oil because there is so much Spanish and Italian olive oil here.”

Cobram Estate is among the win­ningest brands at the NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition. At the 2019 NYIOOC, the com­pany again earned awards for its Californian and Australian prod­ucts. Its Cobram Estate Superior Premiere is the win­ner of the Gold Award five years in a row, includ­ing two Best in Class dis­tinc­tions.

O’Connor and the team at London Carousel pre­pared a fixed menu of California-inspired dishes that are brought to life by selected extra vir­gin olive oils.

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See more: Chef Wants to Set the Tone’ for California’s Olive Oil Culture

I don’t cook a lot of Mediterranean dishes,” O’Connor said. I would say I’m using it dif­fer­ently. I’m kind of pair­ing a lot of these dif­fer­ent blends and vari­eties with dif­fer­ent courses. A lot of mar­i­nat­ing in extra vir­gin olive oil, grilling and fin­ish­ing.”

Among the mouth-water­ing dishes on the menu was the mar­i­nated dairy cow bavette with roasted onions and a charred grape and beef jus.

That dairy cow is rubbed down with some of the [Cobram Estate] First Harvest blend, some spices, some black and white pep­per­corns, fen­nel and grilled over the fire,” he said. Then it is sliced thin and fin­ished with some more of the blend. People have been really enjoy­ing that.”

O’Connor’s goal is to show peo­ple how to cook with extra vir­gin olive oil in a way that fea­tures the tasty and health­ful prod­uct.

I want to get peo­ple to cook with extra vir­gin olive oil, in gen­eral,” he said. To under­stand and enjoy dif­fer­ent blends and sin­gle vari­etals. To have them in their reper­toire and under­stand them. To learn how to taste them and how to cook with them is some­thing that I’ve been want­ing to push for­ward for years.”

I’m sort of feel­ing it start to lift off,” he added.

O’Connor, who spent 10 years cook­ing at two dif­fer­ent Michelin star restau­rants in California, only really began to learn how to cook with olive oil when he joined Cobram Estate five years ago.

O’Connor at home cook­ing in the olive groves of Cobram Estate.

There was that first big break through of learn­ing how to cook with it because I was like many chefs today, think­ing that it’s just for driz­zling, fin­ish­ing and dip­ping,” he said. I was not really under­stand­ing the full capa­bil­i­ties of the prod­ucts.”

Understanding its full capa­bil­i­ties and health ben­e­fits when cook­ing with it along with learn­ing about the sen­sory analy­sis has com­pletely changed the way I cook with this prod­uct,” he added.

When O’Connor first joined Cobram Estate, their col­lab­o­ra­tion was only meant to be tem­po­rary.

I was open­ing a sec­ond restau­rant in Sacramento at the time and some­one at Cobram reached out and asked if I’d be inter­ested in cook­ing at the very first har­vest launch at their olive groves in California,” he said.

So O’Connor went and cooked at the event. Along the way, he tried some of their freshly pressed California extra vir­gin olive oil as well as some of Cobram’s award-win­ning Australian olive oil.

After that expe­ri­ence, O’Connor con­tin­ued to do more work with Cobram.

I think they kind of fell in love with the idea of my kind of cook­ing and the ethos behind it,” he said. So I just kept doing work with them and it got to the point where I was falling in love with Cobram and the idea of this posi­tion [chef-at-large].”

Since his deci­sion to join Cobram full-time, O’Connor has been cook­ing around the globe, fea­tur­ing Cobram’s olive oil at events such as the one at the London Carousel.

In a coun­try where but­ter and rape­seed oil are the main cook­ing fats, O’Connor sees this two-week res­i­dency as a way to show olive oil in a dif­fer­ent light to Londoners.

Utilizing some of these olive oils has been really eye-open­ing for peo­ple,” he said. Now they under­stand that olive oil can taste like this, so green and so fresh.”

O’Connor even man­aged to pair a sweet Hojiblanca oil with the dessert course, which is a California-inspired almond and berry tart. Olive oil is baked into the crust of the tart, as opposed to using but­ter, and the Hojiblanca was used to mar­ble the whipped but­ter­milk.

After the last dessert was plated in London, O’Connor set off for California for a week before fly­ing to New York to cook at events on Long Island and in Manhattan.

That’ll be more of my style,” he said. Just bot­tles of olive oil on the table and fea­tur­ing it in each dish.”


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