OUR JUDGES

Thelma Burnett

Thelma Burnett

AUSTRALIA – PERTH, WA

Thelma trained as an olive oil judge with the Western Australian Olive Council and has been extensively trained by Professor Stan Kailis in Table Olive judging. She has consistently been a hands-on judge for extra Virgin olive oil and table olives at the Perth Royal Show. Thelma is an Occupational Therapist with a passion for all things olive.
Pablo Canamasas

Pablo Canamasas

ARGENTINA

Pablo lives in Argentina and is an agriculture scientist specialising in olive oil production and oil quality. He has been in the olive industry for 22 years. He is an olive oil production consultant in over ten countries including North America, Japan, Argentina, Australia, Chile, Brazil, Israel, China, Mexico and New Zealand. Initially Pablo specialised and trained in olive oil and table olive production in Spain and Italy. He has undertaken valuable olive oil processing research funded by the Australian Government and published numerous research papers on olive processing.  Pablo has broad experience in modern olive oil extraction techniques, olive processing, oil blending and quality control. He has extensive experience in olive oil tasting and has regularly been invited to judge at many competitions including The Australian National Olive Competition, Melbourne’s Royal Agricultural Society of Victoria Olive show, Royal Adelaide Olive Awards and the Fino Oliva Show in Brazil. He has had wide-ranging experience in the design and development of olive oil processing facilities and in the continual improvement of their industrial efficiencies. Pablo is respected worldwide and is a regular key speaker on olive oil and processing courses, conferences and seminars around the world including World Congress
Margie Carter

Margie Carter

AUSTRALIA - WAGGA WAGGA, NSW

Margie has a horticultural and farming background and has been in the olive industry for over 20 years. Having owned an olive tree nursery in 1996, she is well versed in the olive tree and resultant ‘naturally brined’ processing methods. She runs the third generation family farm www.parafieldolives.com.au in the Riverina region just outside of Wagga Wagga. Margie is a producer of premium award winning table olives and olive oil. She has been on the Australian Olive Oil Sensory Panel at Wagga since 2010 and has been judging olive oil at the Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne state competitions and the Australian National Olive Competition since 2003.
Charlotte Connoley

Charlotte Connoley

New Zealand

Charlotte was a member of the Olives New Zealand IOC accredited Sensory Panel since its inception. Charlotte became involved in olive oil judging after completing her honours dissertation on “Olive Oil Quality; The Effect of Cultivar and Location on Oil Quality” during her B.Hort.sc at Lincoln University. She received first class honours based on this research. Charlotte has a passion for the olive industry in New Zealand. She has been in the judging pool for the NZ EVOO Awards since the beginning in 2001. Charlotte has been a regular judge at the NZ Olive oil Awards, a panel member of the IOOC accredited NZ Olive Oil Panel and a speaker at the NZ Olive Conference (2001). Charlotte is the Managing Director of South Pacific Seeds NZ LTD, a subsidiary of the Australian based vegetable seed production and marketing company SOUTH PACIFIC SEEDS PTY LTD. The SOUTH PACIFIC SEEDS group (est. 1986) has since grown to be the largest specialist vegetable seed company in Oceania.
Shane Cummins

Shane Cummins

AUSTRALIA - SYDNEY, NSW

Shane picked his first olives in 2000 with Long Paddock Olive Rustlers and has been hooked ever since. Shane is a landscaper and paver by trade but his incessant passion is for olives. Shane has been formally assessing olive oil since 2007. In 2009 Shane completed the Extra Virgin Olive Oil Appreciation and Assessment course. Since 2010 he has been show judging in regional and national competitions including the Australian National Olive Competition, Olives New Zealand, Royal Agricultural Society of Victoria Australian Food Awards, Sydney Fine Food Show, Canberra Olive Oil Show and the Golden Olive Show. He is the convenor of the ‘Tastebook’ program, a sensory professional development and training initiative in appreciating, describing and understanding how to improve the quality of extra virgin olive oil and table olives. He has been the head judge of the Australian National Olive competition since 2016 and he is extremely honoured to be Chairman of judges for the first Australian International Olive Awards. He sees his responsibility as an advocate for olive oils and olives and facilitator for judges and the event team.
Michael Esposito

Michael Esposito

AUSTRALIA - ADELAIDE, SA

As a young gun, Michael started judging as an associate judge in 2014. In 2015 Michael completed his International Master for EVOO Taster & Olive Experts Diploma in Italy under the instruction of Andrea Giomo, Barbara Alfei and Maria Gabusi. Since then he has been elevated to a full state and national judge and has participated in the Australian National Olive Competition, Royal Adelaide Olive Awards and Fleurieu Fine Food and Olive Competition. Michael is the general manager and olive grower of Kangaroo Island Olives, a family owned olive farm on South Australia’s pristine Kangaroo Island kiolives.com.au. The brand has received multiple awards from various olive oil shows around Australia.
Westerly Isbaih

Westerly Isbaih

AUSTRALIA – SYDNEY, NSW

Westerly started judging as an associate in 2007 after completing her first short course in olive oil assessment with Dr Richard Gawel. Since this course eleven years ago, she has been judging at the AOA National show, The Sydney Royal, The Melbourne Royal and previously the Canberra Royal. Westerly has completed the short course for olive oil assessment twice with Dr Richard Gawel & has attended refresher courses with Claudia Guillame & Margaret Edwards. She is a qualified chef which has enabled a positive correlation between working with food and olive oil appreciation. It has also benefited her work as an EVOO judge. Westerly is a long-standing member of the Australian Olive Association Consumer Awareness & Education committee. She is the Sales and Marketing Manager for their family olive business, ALTO Olives and she participates in the blending of their range of oils every year. she is proud that ALTO Olives make award-winning oils and considers this a huge achievement, especially since the oils have gained International recognition. Westerly is a passionate & committed advocate for high quality Australian extra virgin olive oil.
Dr Soumi Paul Mukhopadhyay

Dr Soumi Paul Mukhopadhyay

AUSTRALIA, SYDNEY NSW

Soumi has successfully completed her PhD in Food Science from School of Agricultural and Wine Sciences, Charles Sturt University (CSU), Australia, She specialised in sensory and consumer science and has had several articles published. Soumi is a food technologist with over seven years of experience in sensory analysis, technology, research and development, corporate quality assurance and intellectual property & capability analysis. She is a trained member of the Australian Olive Oil Sensory Panel at Wagga Wagga and has had extensive palate training. Soumi started her formal olive oil judging journey at the Sydney Royal Fine Food Show in 2016
Briony Liebich

Briony Liebich

AUSTRALIA - ADELAIDE, SA

Briony works at West End Brewery as a Sensory Analyst. For the last 15 years she has honed her skills with a broad range of experience in the food and drink industries including working for her family’s Barossa Valley winery, as a sensory consultant and running a sensory lab. Briony has been judging at state and national olive oil competitions since 2014 and has been head judge of the Fleurieu Peninsula Olive Competition. She also runs food and olive oil sensory workshops to teach flavour descriptors under her Flavour Logic brand. Briony also enjoys harvesting and processing wild and grove olives from around McLaren Vale with friends
Susan Pottie

Susan Pottie

AUSTRALIA - WAGGA WAGGA, NSW

Susan is based in Wagga Wagga and has been an active member of the Australian Olive Oil Sensory Panel since 2009. She has judged at numerous Australian National Olive Competitions, The Australian International Olive Awards, Sydney Royal Fine Food Show, The Royal Canberra Extra Virgin Olive Oil Show and Golden Olive Awards, both in extra virgin and flavoured olive oils. Susan has a Bachelor of Education and her interest in olive oil has encouraged her to further develop her skills and knowledge through regular tasting and maintenance meetings.
Gerri Nelligan

Gerri Nelligan

AUSTRALIA – BAROSSA VALLEY, SA

Having spent seven years emerged in olive industry communications, Gerri formally put on her judging hat in 2015 as an associate judge at the Australian National Olive Competition. Working with some of Australia’s leading olive oil judges, it was a huge learning experience. Since then she’s has grasped every opportunity to taste and evaluate oils, and learn as much as she can about the organoleptic qualities of EVOO. In 2017 she judged at the Australian International Awards, refining her skills as an associate judge while working alongside expert judges including Pablo Canamasas, Toshiya Tada, Shane Cummins and Alexandra Kicenik Devarenne. In 2018 she joins the AIOA judging panel as a fully-fledged judge and has also been invited to judge at several state EVOO competitions across the country. Gerri is Managing Editor of the Olivegrower & Processor industry publication platform and is currently establishing her own mini-olive grove on a two-acre property in the Southern Barossa.
Isabelle Okis

Isabelle Okis

AUSTRALIA - PERTH, WA

Isabelle is based in Western Australia and has been tasting and judging olive oil for over 17 years.  She initially trained under Professor Stan Kailis and Dr Luciano di Giovacchino in 2000-2001 and since then has had training under Judy Ridgeway, Richard Gawel, Paul Vossen, Marc Morain, Gino Russo, Richard Butler and Linda Costa. In 2013 Isabelle completed her Diploma for Tasting Panel Supervisor in accordance with IOOC norms held in Viterbo, Italy and presented by Wenceslao Moreda and Mauro Martelossi. In the last two years Isabelle has been working with Stan Kailis to present refresher olive oil tasting sessions in Perth, WA.  Isabelle has been judging at numerous competitions including the Australian Olive Association National competition (since 2013), Olive Japan (since 2016), regional South West Olive Association (head judge since 2010), Perth Royal Show (since 2000 and head judge since 2015) and Sydney Royal Fine Food Show. She harvests fruit from her small 1000 tree grove in the great southern region of Western Australia and produces her award winning Yaribelle Braes brand of extra virgin olive oil.
Toshiya Tada

Toshiya Tada

Japan

Toshiya Tada is a Master Olive Oil Sommelier, senior taster and olive oil panel leader. He is a regular olive oil judge at the Shodoshima/Japan Municipal Olive Oil Competition and has judged in Israel at Terraolivo. Toshiya is the Chairman and founder of the Olive Oil Sommelier Association of Japan (OSAJ) oliveoil.or.jp/en/.  Since 2012 he has organised and been Director of Japan’s largest annual OLIVE Convention and Olive Oil Competition ‘OLIVE JAPAN’ (olivejapan.com/en). Toshiya is the founder and Senior Professor of the Olive Oil Sommelier School of Japan which started in Tokyo in 2009. He researched and wrote over 80 hours of course curriculum and the thorough 1,200 page textbooks that cover the history of olives and olive production, olive culture, culinary uses, health benefits and sensory skills. He is a Guest Professor with the Fukuoka University, a commentator, a bestselling book author and writer of monthly magazine articles and newspapers. He regularly appears at conferences, seminars and events. Toshiya has a Bachelor of Arts, International Christian University (ICU) Tokyo JAPAN and a Bachelor of Science, Trinity College Cambridge UK.  He is a member of Japan oil Chemists Society (JOCS) and is also a trained tea master with decades of study in the art and appreciation of tea. Toshiya speaks English, German, Latin and Japanese.
Dr Francesca Rocchi

Dr Francesca Rocchi

Italy

Francesca is a teacher and educator in the fields of food, wine and olive oil. She has been a regular taster and journalist at the Slow Food publisher’s Guide to Extravergini and is a member of the Il Ministero delle Politiche Agricole Alimentari e Forestali’s (MIPAAF) working group dedicated to the culture of extra virgin olive oil. In 2010 she was elected President of Slow Food Lazio and became a National Council Member for Slow Food Italy. In 2014, Francesca was made Vice President of Slow Food Italia, a role she continues today. Francesca is a member of the Italian Slow Food Extra-Virgin Olive Oil Presidia, an international project which promotes the environmental, landscape, health and economic value of Italian extra-virgin olive oil, and inform consumers about the qualities of good, clean and fair oil. She is also an educator in the field of food and wine for Slow Food and Eataly, with a focus on the olive tree cycle and on the potential of using EXTRAVERGINE in the daily diet. Francesca is the artistic director of Fiera di Roma, an event dedicated to the Mediterranean Diet, which is held in Rome every year in November (www.mercatomediterraneo.it) where she facilitates a number of presentations dedicated to the culture of extra virgin olive oil. Furthermore, she is part of the tasting panel of SOL/Vinitaly and the Olive Japan International Olive Oil Competition. She speaks Italian, Spanish and English. Francesca has numerous qualifications in the olive oil and wine (sommelier) as well as a Doctor of Philosophy (Ca’ Foscari University of Venice) and enjoys volunteering her time as a representative committee member with Foodinsider (www.foodinsider.it), a digital platform devoted to food education with a focus on Italian school canteen menus.
Debbie Worgan

Debbie Worgan

AUSTRALIA - WAGGA WAGGA, NSW

Debra is a member of the Australian Olive Oil Sensory Panel, the peak chemical and organoleptic testing body based at the NSW Department of Primary Industries Australian Oils Research Laboratory in Wagga. This will be Debra’s eighth year judging olive oil. She has judged at the Sydney Olive Oil Show, the Australian Olive Association National Competition, New Zealand Olive Awards, the Canberra Olive Oil Show and the Golden Olive Show. Debra works as a graphic designer and teacher but her passion for olive oil has seen her undertake regular and ongoing olive oil quality assessment
Helen Taylor

Helen Taylor

AUSTRALIA - WAGGA WAGGA, NSW

Helen has over ten years experience in olive oil judging at regional, state and national olive oil competitions in an associate, standard and head judge capacity. Helen was a judge at the finals of the Armonia International Olive Oil Show in Spain. She is a trained food technologist and in 2003 began training in olive oil sensory evaluation. Helen was one of the founding members of the Australian Olive Oil Sensory Panel at Wagga who then went on to undertake olive oil sommelier and olive oil sensory analysis training in Milan, Italy in 2015. She has trained in table olive production and assessment and has judged in several table olive shows. Helen continues to be an active member of the Australian Olive Oil Sensory Panel.
Ali Tanner

Ali Tanner

AUSTRALIA - WAGGA WAGGA, NSW

Ali is based in Wagga Wagga NSW. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Graduate Diploma in Education. Ali has been a member of the Australian Olive Oil Sensory Panel since 2014 and has judged at both the Australian National Olive Competition and the Northern Victorian Olive Awards.
Dr Wang Wei

Dr Wang Wei

China - Hangzhou (Associate Judge)

Dr Wang Wei graduated from Zhejiang University with a doctorate in food safety in 2008. He was the creator and now executive director of The International Centre for Olive Oil Quality Research (ICOOQR) with a key focus on promoting academic cooperation between China and Australia in the field of olive oil, to improve Chinese enthusiasm for the consumption of quality olive oil and to promote market share of Australia high quality olive oil in China. He is the head director of Nutrition and health research team of Institute of Quality and Standard for Agriculture Products, Zhejiang Academy of Agricultural Sciences. He is as a Master advisor mainly engaged in functional nutrition and health research of agricultural products. He had finished more than 20 research projects, published more than 70 research papers, 21 patents for inventions, include 1 U. S. patents, and 14 patents has been authorized. Dr Wang is also an executive director of the sixth Zhejiang Food Association, and a member of Zhejiang New Century “151 talents project”, “talent plan” of Zhejiang academy of agricultural sciences, and premium members of Chinese Institute of Food Science and Technology. Dr Wang is also a senior member of AOCS, the world’s most extensive and respected collaborative proficiency testing program for oil- and fat-related commodities, oilseeds, oilseed meals, and edible fats.
Catherine Harbison

Catherine Harbison

AUSTRALIA – ADELAIDE, SA (Associate Judge)

Biography Details to come
Dr Andrew Markides

Dr Andrew Markides

AUSTRALIA - ADELAIDE, SA (Associate Judge)

Table Olive Judges

Bob Barrett

Bob Barrett

AUSTRALIA - ADELAIDE, SA

Bob Barrett was Lecturer at the University of Adelaide with over 25 years of teaching at Waite Campus and the National Wine Centre in Oenology, horticulture and wine marketing. His book “Olive Production & Marketing in Australia”, published in 2008, was the based on his lectures developed for this subject at the Waite Campus of the University over a period of years. Bob was Chief Judge at the inaugural National Table Olive Competition in 2010. Prior to retirement he was on the inaugural panel Australian Panel which sought and obtained accreditation from the International Olive Oil Council to make judgements as to the organoleptic status of oils (Extra Virgin, Virgin, and so on). He was a long standing member of Olives SA board and initiated the original Olives South Australia website in 2010. Bob has been a table olive judge at both the Australian National Olive Competition and the Royal Adelaide Olive Awards. He currently consults to the olive industry.
Dr Andrew Markides

Dr Andrew Markides

AUSTRALIA - ADELAIDE, SA

Andrew has judged table olives at the Australian National Olive Competition, the Royal Adelaide Olive Awards and the Fleurieu Fine Food and Olive Competition for some years.  He holds a Bachelor of Science (Hons) and PhD in Microbiology from the University of New South Wales. After 25 years in wine academia teaching wine production, microbiology and sensory evaluation at the Riverina Murray Institute of Higher Education, Roseworthy Agricultural College and The University of Adelaide, Andrew moved to the private sector joining a French-Canadian Company servicing the wine industry worldwide. Andrew’s Greek background has had him interested in olives since his teenage years. Over many years, he learnt a great deal exploring the relationship between olive maturity, flavour, texture and size using various olive varieties. Andrew is now professionally retired from full-time employment but remains active in the olive sector. He continues exploring micro olive processing techniques and is particularly looking forward to increasing my involvement with the olive sector, both nationally and internationally.
Stephen Mitchell

Stephen Mitchell

AUSTRALIA - GLENDON BROOK, NSW

Stephen started judging olive oil at regional olive shows in 2005. Since then he has judged olive oil and table olives at many competitions including Australian National Olive Competition, Sydney Royal Fine Food Show, and Melbourne Royal Fine Food Awards. In 2005 he established the Hunter Olive Show in the Hunter Valley, NSW and has been their chief steward since its inception. He has been on the committee of the Hunter Olive Association since 2001 and runs olive oil and table olive assessment courses and workshops for local olive producers. Stephen is currently on the National Table Olive Committee and was a member of the Australian Olive Oil Sensory Panel (Wagga Wagga) between 2007 and 2009. Stephen is an olive grower and olive oil producer with his own Lisborne Grove label that he markets and sells at the Sydney Farmers Market.
Dr Michelle Wirthensohn

Dr Michelle Wirthensohn

AUSTRALIA - CHARLESTON, SA

Dr Michelle Wirthensohn is the Horticulture Innovation Australia Senior Research Fellow with the University of Adelaide. Michelle has been involved in horticultural breeding and research since graduating from the University of Adelaide where she gained her Bachelor of Agricultural Science (Hons), Graduate Certificate in Higher Education and a PhD in Horticulture. As a member of the Australian Olive Association’s (AOA) National Table Olive Committee, Michelle helped develop the Voluntary Industry Standard for Table Olives and the Australian Olive Association’s Code of Practice for table oil, table olives and other products. She has been Head Judge for the Australian Olive Association’s National Table Olive competition since 2011 and for Olives South Australia (OSA) Royal Adelaide Olive Awards. She also judges for the Fleurieu Fine Foods competition.
Thelma Burnett

Thelma Burnett

AUSTRALIA – PERTH, WA

Margie Carter

Margie Carter

AUSTRALIA - WAGGA WAGGA, NSW

Michael Esposito

Michael Esposito

AUSTRALIA - ADELAIDE, SA

Dr Soumi Paul Mukhopadhyay

Dr Soumi Paul Mukhopadhyay

AUSTRALIA, SYDNEY NSW