Italian Producers Lose a Champion

Gaetano Avallone, the president of Oleum, died last Monday. He has been fondly remembered by many of his colleagues for his contribution to the Italian extra virgin olive oil sector.

Photo courtesy of Oleum.
Feb. 11, 2019
By Ylenia Granitto
Photo courtesy of Oleum.

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The Italian sec­tor of high-qual­ity extra vir­gin olive oil sud­denly lost one of its lead­ing lights, Gaetano Avallone.

We are talk­ing about a great man and a great pro­fes­sional who, sev­eral years ago, had already real­ized that the olive oil world should have been rethought and rev­o­lu­tion­ized.- Nicolangelo Marsicani, award-win­ning olive oil pro­ducer

A pro­fes­sional taster, panel leader and expert in pro­duc­tion and extrac­tion tech­niques, Avallone was the pres­i­dent of the National Association of Professional Olive Oil Tasters, Oleum.

Over the years, he con­tributed sig­nif­i­cantly to the devel­op­ment and improve­ment of the qual­ity of Italian Liquid Gold, through his activ­i­ties of pop­u­lar­iza­tion and dis­sem­i­na­tion along­side col­lab­o­ra­tions with the coun­try’s best olive oil pro­duc­ers.

Austere in appear­ance, the Professor,” as he was affec­tion­ately yet respect­fully called by his friends, had a spe­cial abil­ity to under­stand and embrace oth­ers, mak­ing them feel com­fort­able, while shar­ing his vast knowl­edge and expe­ri­ence with warmth and empa­thy.

Philosophy and olive oil pro­duc­tion were often inter­twined in his words. Professionalism and skills joined with spe­cial human traits made him a point of ref­er­ence for high-qual­ity pro­duc­ers since the early 1990s, when he co-founded the Salerno-based asso­ci­a­tion Oleum.

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Gaetano Avallone

The fol­low­ing are words from those who shared the same pas­sion with Avallone:

He cre­ated some of the best prod­ucts out there,” award-win­ning olive oil pro­ducer and miller, Nicolangelo Marsicani, said. He made these excep­tional extra vir­gin olive oils out of noth­ing.”

We are talk­ing about a great man and a great pro­fes­sional who, sev­eral years ago, had already real­ized that the olive oil world should have been rethought and rev­o­lu­tion­ized,” he added. He is, in fact, among those who unleashed the wake of excel­lence of recent years.”

Gaetano Avallone was my teacher at the tast­ing courses, and after­wards, we worked together,” Laura Dal Sacco, a pro­fes­sional taster and sec­re­tary of Oleum for eight years, said. It was always a plea­sure and an honor to sup­port him in the many activ­i­ties of the asso­ci­a­tion.”

Dal Sacco said that he was a lover of beauty in all its forms, from nature and archi­tec­ture to poetry and for­eign lan­guages.

He was bound to move towards extra vir­gin olive oil,” she said. He had ded­i­cated him­self whole­heart­edly to this pas­sion for 25 years, so com­pletely that he became an expert in every area of the sec­tor.”

He was an inno­va­tor, pos­sess­ing a gen­er­ous and smooth intu­ition, and he was a for­ward-think­ing man who saw at least 10 years ahead,” she con­tin­ued. He was a cho­sen mas­ter with­out any self-ref­er­en­tial­ity. We all owe him a lot, and even if now we are a lit­tle lonely, we will con­tinue to work on the route he marked out.”

I owe a lot to Gaetano Avallone, pro­fes­sion­ally and humanly speak­ing,” NYIOOC panel mem­ber, Antonio G Lauro, said. We first met only four years ago, and he has given me so much, and there was so much more to do. We will honor his com­mit­ment to qual­ity, and we will do our best to be good stu­dents for a great pro­fes­sor.”


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