From the book: AN OLIVE OIL TOUR OF FRANCE
Fabienne Roux is a lady who knows all about tastes, flavors and the goodness of olive oil, an élaïologue (elaïo for olive oil in Greece and logue for specialist) who has been in the business for 22 years. Recognized for her expertise — she often participates in national and international olive oil competitions such as the New York International Olive Oil competition held in April 2013.
Fabienne feels strongly that much more can be done in France to develop awareness of olive oil especially amongst chefs, professional cooks, even the top professionals she feels need to be trained on the culinary virtues of extra virgin olive oil. In 2012, she created The French High School of Olive Oil Tasting where she shares her passion, enthusiasm and knowledge with professionals and gastronomy lovers.
She says: “I wanted a place for experimentation, discussion and defense of the quality of olive oil.”
Particularly interesting is her training of professional chefs, on the culinary aspects of olive oil; Fabienne's approach does not strictly follow the conventional pattern.
She says: “I don’t want to do it like a robot, like a machine. I am looking for emotions. These chefs often buy good olive oil from producers but they need to learn about aromatics, to be more emotional and creative when using olive oil.”
How does she do it?
Without discussing the origins, Fabienne and business partner Alexis Munoz expose their trainees to several different oils, encouraging them to identify the odor for themselves using their olfactory senses – their noses. And for that, Fabienne has her own technique of using special sweets to prepare them for the olive oil tasting experience.
“I use concentrated oils because chefs are constantly tasting, using their mouths, I want them to first use their noses. If a chef thinks the oil is a basic one, I remove it straight away. Most important he must ask himself what he can do with the oil he tastes.
What’s great, is their enthusiasm for this kind of approach; they can become so keen, so excited, we often end up in the kitchen to prepare a dish. Only at the end do they discover the origin of the oils they chose; these might be from Provence, from California Italy or elsewhere. It might even be a bio olive oil but what’s important is the dish they’re going to use it for. I don’t influence them," she enthuses.
"Olive oil is the little sister of wine", observes Fabienne.