2019 Extra Virgin and Flavoured Olive Oil Judges
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.
In 2000 Margaret retired from full-time employment after a career as a dietitian and university lecturer (part time), and having held management positions at major New Zealand companies.
She is the author of numerous publications about food, nutrition and olive oil. Margaret is an Oils and Fats Specialist Group committee member and a member of several professional organisations including the New Zealand Guild of Food Writers and the New Zealand Institute of Food Science & Technology. She is a former vice president of Olives New Zealand (ONZ) and former chairperson of both the ONZ technical committee and the judging panel for the New Zealand National Extra Virgin Olive Oil Awards.
Margaret attended the International Olive Council’s (IOC) organoleptic training courses in New Zealand and the IOC Training Courses for Supervisors of Virgin Olive Oil Tasting Panels held in Italy in 1999 and 2005. She also attended Savantes courses in Australia.
In 2003, in conjunction with The New Zealand Institute for Plant and Food Research Consumer and Sensory Science Facility, Margaret set up, trained and led the ONZ Sensory Panel for Extra Virgin Olive Oil. In 2005 the panel obtained IOC recognition and retained this until the panel was disbanded in 2012.
Margaret has been an international olive oil judge since 2004 and judges regularly in the USA, Australia and Japan. She is a consultant to the New Zealand olive industry, runs olive oil workshops and lectures nationally, and internationally about New Zealand extra virgin olive oil.
Margaret and her husband own an olive grove and olive mill on Waiheke Island where they produce their award-winning extra virgin olive oil.
AUSTRALIA - ADELAIDE, SA
Claudia joined Modern Olives early in 2006 to head up Modern Olives Laboratory. She has over 15 years’ experience in olive oil testing. She finished her studies in Argentina as a Food Scientist and olive oil specialist. After working for several years in the area of quality, authenticity and sensory testing in a commercial food laboratory, Claudia completed a Post Degree Course in Spain; where extensive experience in olive oil analysis was gained.
Claudia is an approved chemist of the AOCS, participates as technical members for the Australian Standard and USP committees, represents Australia in IOC and ISO as technical expert and is a NATA technical assessor. She has extensive experience in sensory evaluation of olive oil carrying out many trainings and judging in this matter.
Claudia has been invited to several national and international conferences as speaker and she has published numerous scientific papers in national and international journals.
AUSTRALIA – SYDNEY, NSW
Depending on the day, you might find Westerly Isbaih either wandering through the olive groves on the family farm, cooking up a storm with her son in her own kitchen, or managing the sales and marketing for the family business, ALTO Olives. Some days it’s all three.
Although born in Australia, Westerly spent her formative years in South East Asia, which instilled in her a deep-rooted curiosity & appreciation for all things edible.
She is a qualified Cordon-Bleu trained chef, and worked in the kitchens of a hatted Sydney restaurant before transitioning her attentions to wholesale and distribution, and the connecting of Sydney’s chefs & retailers to great Australian farmers and producers across the country. Firstly, with her time at Nicholas Foods, and then at Australia on a Plate.
It was during this time that she first came across some excellent Australian extra virgin olive oil, which led her to pursue her love of the noble olive by focusing on the family olive business.
Westerly is a highly regarded extra virgin olive oil & table olive judge of 12 years, and also a long-standing contributor to the Australian Olive Association (AOA) Consumer Awareness & Education Committee. Westerly is an olive oil educator and regularly hosts EVOO tasting & appreciation masterclasses for the foodservice industry as well as the general public.
A graduate from the Michael Pollan school of thought, Westerly’s own philosophy around food is pretty basic: source the best & freshest produce available, know where it comes from and/or what is in it, and treat it simply. And always use high quality, Australian extra virgin olive oil joyously and with abandon. On everything!
AUSTRALIA - NSW
Sue has been an olive oil tasting judge at the Charles Sturt University and a show judge at the Australian Golden Olive Awards in North East Victoria.
She has a Bachelor of Arts, Diploma in Education and a Diploma in Information & Communications Technology. Sue is a retired high school teacher who currently spends time as a panel judge at the Charles Sturt University in Wagga Wagga.
Australia - NSW
Margi has been hands on involved in the olive industry for over 25 years. She is one of the founders of Gwydir Grove Olives, which began producing extra virgin olive oil at Moree in 1995. Her oils have regularly taken out champion medal status at oil shows across Australia.
Margi has travelled to Italy, Spain and Turkey many times to learn and immerse herself in the “olive culture “of the Mediterranean. She has attended several International Olive Oil Council run organoleptic tasting courses to learn the art and finer points of tasting olive oil and oil production.
Margi trained to become a member of the Organoleptic Tasting Panel set up by the AOA, IOOC and Olives South Australia. In 2001 the Australian Organoleptic Panel (of which she was a member) became accredited by the IOOC. She continued training with the Australian Panel throughout 1998 to 2001.
She has worked with, studied with, and undertaken several Savantes workshops with a number of olive oil greats including Mauro Martelossi (International School of Oil Masters – Italy), Justo Almo (Spain) Judith Ridgway (UK), Paul Vosser from USA Roberto Zucca (USA & Italy), Brigida Jimenez Herrera (Spain), Dr Luciano Di Giovacchino (Italy) and Juan Ramon Esquado (Australia and Turkey), Richard Gawel (Australia).
Margi has conducted various olive oil workshops and training seminars across Australia and internationally including Los Angles (USA), Auckland (NZ), and Vatulele Island Resort (Fiji). She was invited to Slow Food Salon del Gusto, Italy to present tasting workshops on the variations in Australian olive oils and to promote Australian extra virgin olive oil.
Margi has been a guest speaker and has tutored and chaired many olive-based events focusing on olive tourism, marketing, olive tasting. Margi was a member of the AOA Consumer Awareness and Education program. She was also on the Australian Olive Association Board from 1995 to 1999 and also held the position of secretary for 3 years.
Margi’s olive oil judging experience is extensive. She has been both a judge and a head judge at a variety of regional and state-based olive oil shows including Royal Canberra Oil Show, RNA Fine Food Show in Brisbane, Royal Perth Olive Awards, Australian Olive Awards, Sydney Royal Fine Food Show, Australian Food Awards, Golden Olive Awards, Royal Hobart Fine Food Awards, Royal Adelaide Olive Awards and New Zealand Extra Virgin Olive Oil Awards.
AUSTRALIA - ADELAIDE, SA
Dr Soumi Paul Mukhopadhyay
AUSTRALIA, SYDNEY NSW
Dr Soumi Paul Mukhopadhyay is New South Wales Department of Primary Industries’ (NSW DPI) new Sensory and Consumer Research Scientist for Horticultural research. She is an expert in understanding how sensory and consumer science can facilitate better promotion and placement of various products (from grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables, wine and olive oil to everyday grocery products). She has extensive experience in both academic and food industries in her 10+ year’s career with national and internationally recognised FMCG companies such as Nestle, Global Calcium, Whirlpool and Goodman Fielder in India, Australia, USA and Italy. She brings together a fresh perspective of how sensory attributes of different food products can be better communicated to various stakeholders in the language they understand.
She is currently leading the Hort Innovation funded project OL17003- “Australian Olive industry sensory training” to deliver a series of integrated national sensory training program for promoting Australian extra virgin olive oil and table olives in domestic and international market and developing a guide to understand and appreciate the products. Soumi is a trained member of the Australian Olive Oil Sensory Panel (AOOSP) at Wagga Wagga and has had extensive palate training. She is frequently travelling in and around Australia for various show-judging of Australian and international olive oils and table olives; some notable mentions are Sydney Fine Food show (since 2014), Golden olives (since 2014) and 1st Inaugural Australian International Olive Oil Awards (AIOA) in Adelaide (2017). Dr Paul Mukhopadhyay has been invited to judge olive oils in New Zealand and Adelaide in October 2018 and recently in 2019. She has published several industry articles related to the TasteBook™ program in “Australian and New Zealand Olive Grower and Processor” and several peer-reviewed articles in international journals related to her sensory and consumer research work.
AUSTRALIA - WAGGA WAGGA, NSW
Cassandra is a Gemmologist and Jewellery Valuer. She and her husband own and operate two jewellery businesses in Wagga Wagga, NSW.
Cassandra is very enthusiastic about all things olive. Having successfully completed training with Peter Olsen and the Department of Primary Industries, Cassandra became a member of the Australian Olive Oil Sensory Panel in 2014. She keeps her olive palate refreshed with regular training and refresher courses, most recently a tasting course with Claudia Guillaume & Toshiya Tada in Geelong.
She has enjoyed being a part of the olive oil and table olive judging panel for The Sydney Fine Food Show & Golden Olives Show for the past five years.
Cassandra is passionate about the industry, the produce and the fabulous people she has met through her association.
AUSTRALIA - PERTH, WA
AUSTRALIA, SYDNEY / INDIA
Abhijit Paul is an avid user of Australian extra virgin olive oil and table olives and he is passionate about exploring the sensory nuances of Australian olive products. Abhijit has started his olive oil appreciation journey from Wagga Wagga, where he had successfully completed extensive palate training with Peter Olson in 2014. Since then, he is a proud trained member of Australian Olive Oil Sensory Panel (AOOSP) at Wagga Wagga.
Abhijit has been involved with Australian olive industry since 2014 as he has judged in various shows in and around Australia. Some notable mentions are Sydney Fine Food show (since 2015), Golden olives (since 2014) and Australian International Olive Oil Awards (AIOA) in Adelaide (2018). Abhijit was also part of the stewarding team with Trudie Michels when the 1st AIOA started in Adelaide in 2017. Abhijit always gets amazed with the versatility of Australian olive products- both extra virgin olive oil and table olives, every time he tastes them.
AUSTRALIA - TAS
Karen is based in North Hobart Tasmania and has been involved in the Tasmanian food and wine industry for forty years as a chef, waiter and restaurant and bakery operator.
Karen’s focus has always been on the use of top-quality ingredients, local if possible and creating strong personal relationships with producers and suppliers. Karen has worked
as an olive oil judge, a food stylist, and an educator to the industry and the general public. She is now currently working as a Food and Beverage Coordinator for
several local festivals including Ten Days on the Island and Festival of Voices; a hospitality trainer for the long term unemployed and a consultant to the industry.
She has witnessed firsthand the growth of the local Tasmanian olive industry from its inception to its current award-winning status.
Karen has judged the olive oil category at the Tasmanian Fine Food Awards in Hobart since 2001.
Dr Francesca Rocchi
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.
Helen is a Melbourne based teacher with formal olive oil assessment training.
She has judged at the Australian Olive Association National competition as well as the Royal Melbourne Fine Food Awards and the Golden Olive Awards.
Helen provides specialised language and liaison support for the Australian olive oil industry for the Chinese market including facilitating trade partnerships, export compliance, design copy direction and product specifications.
AUSTRALIA - WAGGA WAGGA, NSW
AUSTRALIA - SWAN VALLEY, WA
Richard is based in Western Australia and has a background in olive production through his role at the Western Australian Department of Agriculture and Food providing agronomic and industry advice to olive growers. He co-authored several papers on olive growing including liaising on the NOVA project and researching and sharing knowledge with other state olive industry counterparts. He also led an olive study tour to Spain and Italy in 20000.
He has trained in Olive Oil Assessment under several leading tasters such as Judy Ridgeway, Richard Gawel, Stan Kailis and visiting Italian and Californian specialists. Richard has a Bachelor of Business, a Graduate Diploma of Finance and a Diploma of Horticulture.
Richard has been a big supporter of the Western Australian olive industry helping establish the West Australian Olive Council (WAOC) of which he is a life member and continues to do so in his retirement. He has a background in viticulture and regularly attends wine tastings sessions in the Swan Valley to keep his palate trained.
Richard has judged at the Royal Extra Virgin Olive Competition for 18 years and has also judged at regional WA shows such as the South West Olive Competition. He was an Associate Judge at the Australian National Olive Competition in 2016.
AUSTRALIA - WAGGA WAGGA, NSW
Dr Wang Wei
China - Hangzhou (Associate Judge)
AUSTRALIA – ADELAIDE, SA (Associate Judge)
Catherine has a foody background, stemming from a family love of all things edible and drinkable, hunting, gathering, fishing, diving.
She studied cooking in Paris, followed by years of chefing all over Australia and owning two restaurants.
Catherine has a degree in Oenology and has worked various vintages in the infamous Barossa Valley. She still helps out at Leibichwein.
For the last 10 years Catherine has worked in primary schools, teaching kids how to run an organic garden, growing food, cooking it and eating it (Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Program).
Catherine’s interests include cheesemaking and giving workshops in cheesemaking, harvesting wild foods, including olives. She has been judging olives and olive oil for the last three years at the Royal Adelaide Olive Awards and has been a regular judge at the Fleurieu Olive Awards.
AUSTRALIA - HOBART TAS (Associate Judge)
Eloise is the chef and owner of Little Norfolk Bay Events and Chalets, a boutique luxury accommodation and event space on the beautiful Tasman Peninsula in Tasmania. Eloise regularly cooks formal dinners for her guests who are staying as part of the Indulgence Weekend Packages and the Cooking Retreats she hosts. Eloise has been cooking in commercial kitchens for 25 years, including 7 years owning her own restaurant she has always been passionate about using seasonal Tasmanian produce in her cooking. Eloise is the international award winning author of 4 cookbooks and now manages the production of cookbooks for clients. Eloise works as a photographer and stylist, and also teaches cooking, photography and styling in regular workshops which she organises and hosts.
Eloise loves being involved in all types of food awards, and is the Chief Judge of The Hobart Fine Food Awards. Eloise hopes to establish her own small olive grove with the eventual dream of producing a small amount of her own oil one day in the future.
AUSTRALIA - ADELAIDE, SA (Associate Judge)
Sarah has come from a long line of passionate food lovers. Having spent her younger years in a renowned South Australian food producing region, quality and freshness have always been at the fore of her culinary experiences. Growing up in an Italian – Australian household has meant extra virgin olive oil always takes center stage in the Kitchen.
Being involved in her family’s Olive groves in both the Adelaide Hills and Murraylands has allowed her to refine her skills in blending and tasting extra virgin olive oils, as well as working along with a strong South Australian extra virgin olive oil community where her family’s oil is respected and well awarded.
Sarah has completed the Extra Virgin Olive Oil Savantes course and has been involved in judging the Fleurieu Olive Awards and associate judging at the Royal Adelaide Olive Awards in 2018. She thrives on the nuances found between olive varietals and flavours and is currently involved hands on with the blending of varietals and oils for her family grown and operated Rio Vista Olives in the Adelaide hills as well as undertaking a number of marketing and sales roles.
2019 Table Olive Judges
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
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.
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
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.
Australia - PERTH WA
AUSTRALIA - KANGAROO ISLAND SA
AUSTRALIA - ADELAIDE SA
AUSTRALIA - WAGGA WAGGA NSW
AUSTRALIA - VIC
Soumi Paul Mukhopadhyay
AUSTRALIA - SYDNEY , INDIA
AUSTRALIA - SYDNEY / INDIA
AUSTRALIA - HOBART TASMANIA