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The Olive Tap Tasting Panel
What is Extra Virgin Olive Oil?
- An olive oil produced exclusively from olives (100%)
- Produced using only mechanical/physical means and is extracted without heat and chemicals
- The oil must not be altered in any way
- Must be free of any sensory defects
- Free fatty acid level (direct measure of the quality and freshness of the oil) of less than .8%. The Olive Tap standard is .5% or less.
Each and every 100% Extra Virgin Olive Oil must be approved by the Official Olive Tap Tasting Panel before it is offered in our stores and online using the following evaluation process:
First, all of our 100% Extra Virgin Olive Oils are sent to an independent lab to be analyzed. We then receive a Certificate of Analysis for each oil, which includes the results of up to 7 different tests to determine the olive oil’s freshness, purity, and quality. The Olive Tap’s chemical standards meet or exceed all of the generally recognized international standards and parameters (International Olive Council, California Olive Oil Council, USDA, etc).
And then, before each Extra Virgin Olive Oil arrives on your Olive Tap shelf, it is evaluated by all members of The Olive Tap Tasting Panel. The panel determines if the olive oil is free of any and all defects and can indeed be labeled extra virgin. The panel completes a sensory analysis for freshness, complexity, intensity, aroma, balance, characteristics and flavors. Quality is of the highest importance before an olive oil is approved to be carried The Olive Tap stores.
Meet the Olive Tap's Tasting Panel:
Rick Petrocelly is the founder and owner of The Olive Tap, an olive oil tasting emporium located in the historic business district of Long Grove. In addition to its On-line Store, there are 8 other independently owned locations. The Olive Tap's are among a handful of stores in the United States with access to the freshest selections of extra-virgin olive oils and flavored oils from small batch producers worldwide, including oils that have been awarded Silver, Gold and Best of Show medals from competitions such as the Los Angeles County Fair, the European IOC competition and the AOOC in Australia.
Petrocelly’s passion for the culinary arts began at age 10 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania working in his father’s Italian restaurant. After a successful career in the corporate sector, Petrocelly returned to his roots. The Olive Tap, opened in Long Grove in July 2006. A signature feature of The Olive Tap is that visitors can sample any variety of oil or balsamic vinegar before it is poured and bottled for purchase. In his flagship shop, Petrocelly and his staff will always discuss the origin, properties, and best uses for his products with any interested customer. Petrocelly is a certified olive oil consultant and an accomplished cook who emphasizes fresh, flavorful ingredients in uncomplicated recipes. Stories on The Olive Tap have appeared in the Chicago Tribune, North Shore Magazine, Pioneer Press publications, and the Daily Herald. Petrocelly has conducted seasonal cooking classes at the Chicago Botanic Garden, community groups, culinary expos, and suburban farmers’ markets. He has appeared on WGN’s “Lunch Break” and on FOX-TV’s “Good Day Chicago.” Petrocelly is currently advocating legislation for Illinois, similar to laws recently passed in Connecticut and California, to stop fraudulent labeling of olive oil and establish consistent standards for terms such as “extra-virgin,” “virgin,” “first cold pressed,” and “packed in Italy.” He is also writing a series of articles to inform the public about deceptively labeled olive oil.
Chef James Mario Olivi has enjoyed gourmet foods, fine dining, and learning to cook from his Italian family. Growing up in the South Side of Chicago, he learned the value of family and good food brought from Tuscany and Lombardy. He says, ”Those wonderful days when a house full of family, cousins to the second degree and friends sat down to an authentic Italian dinner left a lasting impression. Those experiences instilled in me a sense of the values brought by my immigrant grandparents.”
Chef Olivi started The Olive Tap Downers Grove in June 2007, bringing gourmet foods to Downers Grove and the surrounding communities until his recent retirement and move to Arizona. He attended the Sensory & Chemistry of Olive Oil class at the UC Davis Olive Center in May of 2013. There he learned the science of the “liquid gold” extracted from his namesake fruit. This unique experience makes him and his partners at The Olive Tap experts in the selection and use of Extra Virgin Olive Oils. His responsibilities with The Olive Tap family include meeting with olive growers and millers, and grape growers and makers of Balsamic Vinegar of Modena in California and Europe.
Because of his interest in fine dining, he decided to attend the College of DuPage's culinary program earning his certificate in the winter of 2013. His interests in cooking include Mediterranean and general European cuisine. During the summer of 2014, he attended the International Academy of Italian Cuisine in Lucca, Italy, studying under Master Chef Gianluca Pardini.
Growing up in an Italian family with strong culinary threads, John began to develop his culinary skills at an early age. His mother and father taught all three brothers how to cook young, so that they could fend for themselves if they were hungry. John’s earliest memories of olive oil and balsamic vinegar come from shopping with his father for said Italian specialties on the Pittsburg Strip; where John’s father also owned a pizza shop. John increased his culinary skills from working alongside his father and brothers in this pizza shop and John continued to cook in college at other restaurants, for his fraternity, and for the Junior Chamber of Commerce. These experiences gave John the confidence to cook any meal, breakfast, lunch, or dinner, for 1 to 40 people, as well as experiment with different kinds of cuisines. He also attended cooking school in Connecticut, Pot au Feu. After a corporate career and raising two daughters with his wife, John followed in his brother Rick’s footstep and opened his own Olive Tap location in 2007 in Medina, Ohio. He has continued his olive oil education by attending Tasting Seminars at The Olive Center at UC Davis of California. He has also traveled throughout Italy researching Balsamic Vinegar of Modena and Olive oils; meeting with Olive Tap producers and continuing his culinary expertise.
Jennifer Coco Thornton
American by birth, Sicilian by blood, and Provencal at heart; Jennifer developed her passion for olive oil while living in Aix-en-Provence, France in 2007. It was in the nearby village of Les Baux that she had her first taste of this liquid gold...an experience that would change her life. The pursuit of this new found olive oil passion led her on an unimaginable adventure. Jennifer spent years working at the side of the "Queen of Olive Oil" (Christine Cheylan, owner of Chateau Virant) in France, including harvesting, milling, blending, and traveling throughout Europe for EVOO classes and conferences. From these invaluable formative years, Jennifer has gone on to participate in olive milling seasons with the most incredible and inspiring producers in Provence, Sicily, Spain, and California (The Olive Center at UC Davis). She has traveled the Mediterranean learning all she can about this sacred fruit, allowing her to be part of the national French olive oil competition's jury as well as one of the judges of the most prestigious international olive oil competition in Canada, Olive d'Or. Recruited by Olivier Baussan, founder of L'Occitane and Olivier & Co, Jennifer spent two years in Paris working with his new brand Premiere Pression Provence. The combination of olive oil and culinary bliss brought her to the Top 100 of France's first season and America's fourth season of MasterChef, where she acquired the name "Olive Oil Princess". Her tale of olive oil discovery is published in the educational illustrated book Olive to Olive Oil about French olive culture and she offers olive oil tasting and cooking classes. After moving back to Ohio in 2012 to be with family, Jennifer joined the Olive Tap Enterprises in an educational role and conducts training sessions, cooking and tasting courses, contributes to The Olive Tap blog, and is a member of the Olive Tap Tasting Panel.