Event Celebrating New Oils Returns to Paris for Fourth Edition

Producers, chefs and olive oil enthusiasts prepare to gather in Paris to sample and judge some of the year's best early-harvest oils.

Oct. 29, 2018
By Daniel Dawson

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Olio Nuovo Days return to Paris this January for its fourth edi­tion. Producers from around the world will sub­mit their sam­ples of olio nuovo to the founder of the annual event, Emmanuelle Déchelette.

We want every Parisian to be able to taste the fresh olive oil.- Emmanuelle Déchelette, Olio Nuovo Days

I received the olio nuovo ear­lier this week and I’m very excited,” Déchelette told Olive Oil Times. Olio nuovo comes from the very first olive har­vest of the sea­son and is unfil­tered and unracked. These oils tend to be the fresh­est of the sea­son, but they also have a shorter shelf life since they are unfil­tered.

Déchelette and her team will select thirty sam­ples and invite their pro­duc­ers to attend and com­pete in the event.

I can’t have more than thirty olive oils because I have to deal with 30 restau­rants, which is a lot,” she said.

Each pro­ducer will have their oil fea­tured in a dish cooked by a pro­fes­sional chef at a top-rated Parisian restau­rant.

I only choose fancy restau­rants because it is impor­tant for the pro­duc­ers,” Déchelette said. They want to have chefs with spe­cial skills, Michelin star chefs, such as [Julien Dumas of] Lucas Carton. All of these chefs have spe­cial­ties, so when these kinds of peo­ple choose one olive oil, it means some­thing.”

For Déchelette, this phase of the event ben­e­fits both the pro­duc­ers and chefs. She espe­cially sees this as an oppor­tu­nity to teach French chefs how to bet­ter uti­lize olive oils in their dishes.

The main prob­lem with chefs [here] is that they are not trained on olive oil,” she said. They used to use very flat olive oil and now I’ve started to work with them and show them that olive oil has to give some­thing spe­cial to what they cook.”

It is a dif­fer­ent approach and they like it, so now the chef won’t use one olive oil to go with every­thing, they use olive oil the way it has to be used, as a condi­ment,” she added.

Eric Briffard, the exec­u­tive chef and direc­tor of culi­nary arts at Le Cordon Bleu Institute, will return to pre­side over the com­pe­ti­tion and head up the jury panel for the sec­ond straight year. He embraces the event as a way for peo­ple to expe­ri­ence the advan­tages of sea­son­al­ity in food; eat­ing cer­tain things when they are the fresh­est.

I was brought up at the rhythm of nature,” he said. By respect­ing sea­son­al­ity, we also show­case our arti­sanal culi­nary her­itage in the face of the agro-food indus­try that is stan­dard­iz­ing our palates.”

During the com­pe­ti­tion phase of the event, each pro­ducer will vie for three awards: over­all oil qual­ity, best bot­tling and best label­ing. The com­pe­ti­tion is divided into two rounds, a qual­i­fy­ing and final phase. The top six oils from the qual­i­fy­ing phase head into the final round.

Each sam­ple of olio nuovo is assigned a num­ber, so none of the jurors know any­thing about the sam­ple which they are tast­ing.

Blind tast­ing is pri­mor­dial for the selec­tion of a good oil, just like wine,” Briffard said. A taster’s judg­ment can be prej­u­diced by know­ing details of an oil, such as geo­graphic ori­gin, price or rep­u­ta­tion.”

Last year, Japanese pro­ducer Takao Olive emerged as the sur­prise win­ner for the award for best qual­ity; French pro­ducer Les Callis won for the best label, and Catalan pro­ducer Henri Mor took home the award for best bot­tling.

Along with the com­pe­ti­tion and the restau­rant pair­ing, there is a pub­lic event known as a par­cours, in which every­one can try all of these olive oils with bread in a num­ber of bak­eries around the city.

We want every Parisian to be able to taste the fresh olive oil,” Déchelette said. The taste is stronger, so it is eas­ier to under­stand what you pre­fer.”

The goal of Olio Nuovo Days con­tin­ues to be three­fold in the eyes of Déchelette. She seeks to help con­sumers find great olive oil while expand­ing and democ­ra­tiz­ing knowl­edge of what makes an olive oil stand out in the first place. She also aims to pro­mote col­lab­o­ra­tion between pro­duc­ers and chefs, the lat­ter of whom she views as strong pub­lic influ­encers.

Olio Nuovo Days will run from January 14 to 18 and take place at the Maison Métropole, Institut des Systèmes Complexes, and bak­eries and restau­rants around the city.


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