Food & Cooking

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.

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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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