I started off my EVOO journey in Bulgaria with the clear idea to work and cooperate with food enthusiasts and professionals towards growing together the food and EVOO culture in my home country and beyond. Food is so essential in our lives. And at a point in time I’ve realized that we modern city people have limited average knowledge unless curious and having deeper interests in knowing more about our plates. Healthy, genuine and balanced food matters a lot to be our medicine day after day. And to give us support throughout the seasons and natural body flows. I’ve always been connected to food in my conscious life ~ working in the industry, travelling a lot and enriching my flavour palette across continents and countries, being curious to discover local heritage, recipes and traditions. Thinking more local and seasonal, being enthusiastic and conscious about the importance of preserving biodiversity and thinking and acting sustainability.
And now, having accumulated much experiences, knowledge and having observed my habits and body rhythm in the years, I acknowledge I have a lot to share with a broader circle not just my close one. To support city and active people in making more informed choices about their food and the fats they eat. Also, to inspire more food enthusiasts and gourmet seekers about the vast possibilities and genuine mastership of EVOO in the kitchen. To open a new world of flavours and experiences for more curios and inquisitive food soulmates. And take a step further making a deep dive together, similar to the one people usually do in the world of wine, coffee, whisky, tea, etc..
There are 1275 studied olive cultivars in the world, enormous biodiversity across the growing countries and regions, a vast palette of aromas and tastes, of richness and vigour of olive oil common characteristics such as Fruitiness, Bitterness and Pungency. Indeed, one could not possibly imagine all that richness and breadth until diving into a tasting and food pairing experience. I’ve noticed how the faces change with astonishment, after tasting in sequence 6 distinctive and high quality mono-cultivar artisan EVOOs ~ this happens always, once you open the olive oil path. I’ve experienced it with the participants at the masterclasses at DiVinoTaste in 2018/19 editions, at thematic dinners or at Menu and Food Connection cooking schools. Only after, one could realize that the world of EVOO is very similar to the one of other “liquid golds with a character” and when adding it to the food it gives it that special final touch, a sparkling flare or harmony that the palate appreciates and praises high.
I love sharing knowledge, it is like planting seeds that grow and bloom after. When adding passion to this enriching process of knowledge exchange a little miracle happens. For both sides. Therefore, I felt enormous gratitude and satisfaction to be invited and organize together with the Academy for Culinary Arts, HRC in Sofia masterclasses dedicated to EVOO and food pairing, for the future chefs. To partner with their talented instructors and have a theoretical and practical part with a tasting and cooking session. To discuss and exchange thoughts with the students and chefs-to be from more than 10 countries ~ from Brazil to Bali! It was amazing to meet students from traditional olive oil producing countries ~ Turkey, Croatia, Slovenia and Greece. And others from the “new world” such as India where olive trees have been planted in the past 10 years or Australia where the olive tree has been brough a few centuries back. I shared the professional path of 3 olive oil chefs from Greece, Italy and Bulgaria, passionate about high quality EVOOs who use the “liquid gold” as signature for their artisan cuisines. There are many more chefs globally focusing on the art of pairing EVOO with their signature dishes and thus creating their own unique and distinctive style.
With 3rd semester we made a bridge with Vol. 1 masterclass from November 2019, focusing on distinguishing common defects and on the art of food pairing. Depending on the intensity of each EVOO, its Fruitiness and Pungency, as well as flavour characteristics the approach to pairing could be vary ~ bringing completeness and harmony to a dish, or contrast and vigour for it to shine and stand out. Therefore, our tasting session focused on delicate to intense EVOOs, also same olive variety harvested early (e.g. October) or later in time (e.g. November-December) to tell the difference. We also had a good discussion about the benefits of EVOO in the kitchen, its multiple application across cooking/heat techniques, the vitality and expression it gives to food, bringing a noble and natural character to the dishes.
And finally, chef Zhechev made a demonstration of 3 signature dishes he had created especially for the class, paired with 3 distinctive EVOOs ~ a delicate Arbequina, an early harvest Picual from centenary trees and another Picual harvested a month later. What happiness to taste those multidimensional plates! The students had also a chance to prepare some amuse bouche on their own pairing them with the dedicated EVOO for each one of them. Ant it was both fun and teamwork with knowledge building. Couldn’t be a better combination!