My City Kitchen, a nonprofit organization focused on at-risk and low-income children, teens and families, cooperates with Enotre, a producer of extra virgin olive oil from Calabria.
“Our extra virgin olive oil Enotre is a blend of Carolea and Nocellara Messinese from plants grown at an altitude of 600 meters in the shade of Sila mountains, in olive groves belonged to my father,” said Pietro Polizzi, adding that they usually carry out the harvest in early October to get the best out of these varieties. “Even though, I obtained great product also by harvesting in early November,” he pointed out.
I was happy and excited like a kid in a candy shop to be part of this amazing process. I saw a way to help support the My City Kitchen program.
Enotre’s notes of cut grass and tomato intrigued the chef and executive director of Connecticut-based My City Kitchen (MCK), Kashia Diaz Cave, who met Polizzi through a mutual friend during a working visit in Italy.
“When I got connected with Pietro, I was drawn by his passion for his work with extra virgin olive oil,” Diaz Cave told Olive Oil Times. “I asked him many questions about his activity and he answered all of them.” She felt the desire to discover more about the production of liquid gold: As a trained chef, she wanted to learn why it was considered a superior oil, and since her family has a history of diabetes and high blood pressure and she heard it may reduce the disease risks, she wanted to experience its healthy aspects and all its other uses from food to beauty.
Most importantly, she was interested in extra virgin olive oil as founder and chef at My City Kitchen, a not for profit organization that focuses on teaching at-risk and low-income children, teens and families how to cook healthy meals, understanding food production and how to prepare it on a budget, thanks to simple life skills and basic food education.
“First, I wanted to experience for myself every step of production,” said Diaz Cave. So she got on a plane and flew to Calabria with her friend Andrea De Silva, a professional photographer, where Polizzi took them to their olive groves.
“To tell our story is the best way to bring people closer to extra virgin olive oil,” said Polizzi. “We bring them to our beautiful but steep olive groves and we harvest by hand. This shows our passion, and this is probably what impressed Kashia when she chose to work with us.”
Diaz Cave admitted that she never realized how much labor goes into harvesting the olives. “Understanding the importance of picking, storing to pressing, what pure unfiltered olive oil looks, smells and tastes like, it blew my mind. I was happy and excited like a kid in a candy shop to be part of this amazing process.”
During that visit, many projects emerged: To give her teen students the opportunity to travel to Calabria and participate in the harvest as part of an educational program through My City Kitchen; to create a travel group to allow friends and family to experience the harvest while visiting Italy; to collaborate with the Polizzi family to promote and sell their Enotre oil at MCK Gourmet Café, that recently opened.
“I saw a way to help support the My City Kitchen program,” Diaz Cave affirmed since an important part of My City Kitchen is educating students of a farm to table concept, working with farmers, visiting local farms in the state, and giving them an understanding of food production.
Lives have changed for the better through MCK cooking programs, like Alex who, at 14, was in trouble with the law. His probation officer connected him with MCK as part of an education and job readiness program. First, Alex wasn’t really excited about cooking, but Diaz Cave changed his outlook and three years later he is one of her best volunteers.
“My passion is to help our inner city youth reach their full potential, and if I can use my cooking to help, then that’s what I will do,” said Diaz Cave. “Everyone deserve a chance for a brighter future.”