Panel of Judges
Jose Maria Penco
Jose Maria Penco from Spain is an agronomist, consultant, manager and olive farmer in Cordoba. He holds an Agricultural Engineering degree from the University of Cordoba, an Executive MBA degree from the International Institute San Telmo in Seville and a Masters degree in Olive Growing and Olive Oil Technology also from the University of Cordoba. He is currently the Technical Director of the Spanish Association of Olive Oil Municipalities, an organization made up of 170 municipalities across Spain. Among his duties are studies and market research and EU projects management including Equal, Interreg, Enpi and Adapt. Jose Maria has also worked as a designer for 15 years, developing multiple food industry projects, especially in relation to olive oil. Early on in his career, Jose Maria worked as an agronomist for the government of Cadiz and as a manager for agribusiness companies in the oil and wine sectors. He is the author of several technical papers about olive growing and olive oil production and has lectured at various national and international forums on olive cultivation techniques, cost analysis, market analysis, quality olive oil, etc. He is a member of several tasting panels in Spain, including Cadiz, Cordoba, Seville, BioCórdoba, Ecotrama, Community Heritage Award Montoro, AEMO and AOVE.
Dr Antonio Giuseppe Lauro, from Italy, is an agronomist, olive oil consultant, educator, journalist and panel leader in several olive oil competitions. He is an accredited Extra Virgin Olive Oil taster since 1995 and an International Olive Council (IOC) panel leader since 2003. He has also been leading training courses for professional olive oil assessors for the past 15 years (in accordance with IOC/EU laws) and is a judge at many international olive oil competitions, such as Concorso Nazionale Ercole Olivario, Premio Biol/International Organic Olive Oil Competition, Concorso Nazionale Ercole Olivario, Extrascape, TerraOlivo Jerusalem, Olivinus Mendoza, New York International Olive Oil Competition, Domina International Olive Oil Contest Palermo, Mediterranea Oro, Skidòn Olive Oil Competition and Olive Japan. Aa an agronomist and olive sector expert for the Agricultural Department of Calabria he has participated in many national and international projects related to olive oil production and quality control. Antonio is also the author of numerous publications (books, articles, guides…) on olive oil. His web site is www.antoniolauro.it
Antonio Giuseppe Lauro
Carmen Sanchez Garcia
Carmen Sanchez Garcia is an olive oil consultant who was born in Valdepeňas, Spain but currently resides in Pulheim, Germany. She holds a degree in Economics from the University of Castilla La Mancha and is an accredited Extra Virgin Olive Oil Taster through the University of Jaén in Spain. Her consultancies have led her to work with many Michelin-starred chefs such as Alexandro Pape of Altes Fährhaus restaurant in Sylt, Andreas Steinwandt of Kleine Brunnenstrasse 1 in Hamburg and Nelson Müller of Müllers auf der Rü. At Munich’s Confiserie Opaque she has worked with their chefs-patissiers to develop a ground-breaking series of EVOO chocolates exclusive for high gastronomy. As an educator and lecturer she has led numerous events, presentations, lectures and workshops on olive oil, including several for such prestigious companies and organizations as Thyssen Krupp, Vitra, the Anuga fair, Edeka Supermakets, the Cervantes Institute in Bremen, the Food & Flavour cooking school in Essen and Google Deutschland. Carmen has judged olive oils at Biopress and Feinschmecker (Germany), Ovibeja (Portugal) and at the Universitiy of Jaén in Spain.
Ehud Soriano, from Israel, is an olive oil consultant, head of the Israeli Olive Oil Tasting Panel (recognized by the IOC) and instructor of other olive oil panels in Israel including the IOC-accredited Israeli Organoleptic Assessment Course, which he heads. Ehud is panel leader at both of Israel’s national olive oil competitions and travels extensively abroad as a taster in several international olive oil competitions including Biopress, Ovibeja and Der Feinschmecker.
Francisco Ataide Pavao
Francisco Manuel Aguia de Sousa Ataide Pavao, from Portugal, is an agronomist, olive grove manager, olive mill expert, educator and accredited taster. A graduate of the Superior Institute of Agronomy at Lisbon’s Technical University, he has managed olive groves, olive tree nurseries and olive mills for many years with a vast array of responsibilities. As technical manager and president of the Producers Association in Integrated Pest Management of Trás-os-Montes and the Alto Douro Region, Francisco has been in the forefront of implementing novel integrated production and organic farming techniques in these regions. He teaches at the School of Agronomy at Bragança’s Polytechnic Institute and is a permanent member of the school’s extended panel of olive oil tasters. He has been the director of the Portuguese Farmers Confederation and judges regularly in several international competitions outside Portugal.
Aida Lazzez from Tunisia, is an educator and permanent researcher at the unit of Technology and Quality at the Olive Tree Institute (L’Institut de l’Olivier) in Sfax, Tunisia, since 2005. Her research aims to improve the quality of olive oil through the study of factors such as the maturation process, olive tree varietals, extraction techniques, geographical locations, irrigation and climate factors. In recent years she has focused on developing olive oil authentication techniques through biomarkers and olive oil “fingerprints”. The author of more than 20 scientific papers and co-author of many more, she has participated in several national and international scientific conferences and is a permanent member of the Scientific Committee of the International Symposium Med Mag Oliva where she is in charge of developing several programs including a course on the sensory analysis of olive oil. As a member of her country’s Audit Committee she is responsible for controling olive oil mills and practices and as a member of Tunisia’s National Olive Oil Office she controls the application of physico-chemical methods of analysis of olive oil and olive pomace oil. She is an accredited olive oil taster since 2009, through the University of Jaen, where she also teaches a university-level course on olive oil sensory analysis and another one on the chemistry of fats.
Selin Ertur, from Turkey, is an olive oil taster and producer educated and licensed in Tuscany. She is a graduate of Bilkent University (Ankara) and has followed courses from the Masters program in “Olivicoltura ed Elaiotecnica” at the Universita di Perugia (Italy). While in Italy, Selin trained for eight years next to Tuscan olive oil experts, notably Dr. Marco Mugelli. She gained her tasting accreditations and professional experience in Tuscany. Currently, she is a permanent member of Turkey’s National Olive Oil Tasting Panel and jury member in many olive oil competitions such as Domina (Palermo), Sol D’Oro (Verona), Japan, Los Angeles, New York, TerraOlivo (Israel) and Montiferru (Sardegna). Selin is the 4th generation olive oil producer of her family’s mill, established in 1899 (www.selatin-evo.com).
Dimitra Tofari is an agronomist from Lesbos, Greece, and a permanent citizen of Cyprus for the past 22 years. She is a graduate of the Agricultural University of Athens, Faculty of Crop Science. Early in her career she worked for a plant protection and agricultural supplies company before being employed, in 2004, as an Agricultural Officer for Cyprus’ Agricultural Department (Ministry). As an extension officer and consultant she is in charge of olive culture for the district of Larnaca, focusing on quality improvement of olive products. She is a permanent member of the Olive Oil Organoleptic Assessment panel of the Department of Agriculture since 2009. The Olive Oil Organoleptic Assessment panel is Cyprus’ only olive oil sensory analysis panel that has received IOC recognition in Cyprus. She was trained in olive oil tasting by Maria Lazaraki and Efi Christopoulou. She has also attended seminars on olive oil tasting and olive culture in Cyprus, Greece and Tunisia.
Alexandra Kicenik Devarenne
Alexandra Kicenik Devarenne, olive oil consultant and educator, is a cofounder of the Extra Virgin Alliance (EVA), an international non‐profit trade association of olive oil producers and experts working to foster appreciation, restore consumer trust and create value in the market for authentic, high-quality extra virgin olive oil. A taste panel member since 2003, she currently serves on two California olive oil sensory panels. She has taught olive oil tasting classes in many venues, including Olive Oil Sommeliers of Japan, Culinary Institute of America, Los Angeles County Fair, UC Davis, and many other venues. She serves as a judge and advisor for several California and international olive oil competitions and chairs the Napa Valley Olive Oil Competition. Alexandra has presented at many olive oil conferences in the US and abroad, focusing on olive oil sensory education, communication, marketing and quality, and teaches classes on olive oil production. She is a member of the American Oil Chemists’ Society expert committee on olive oil, and has cooperated with AOCS on research projects. Beginning with her research work while at the University of California Cooperative Extension, she has written on many aspects of olive oil for popular and scholarly publications, and contributed a chapter to the international book Olive Oil Sensory Evaluation.
Zacharenia Siganou from Greece trained as a Chemical Engineer at the National Technical University of Athens (NTUA) and is an olive oil quality and production consultant. Zacharenia lives in Crete where she is in charge of quality control at the Agricultural Cooperatives Union of Mirambello (ACUM). In 2006 she established the olive oil tasting panel for ACUM and is currently its leader. For the past three years she has judged at the Japan International Olive Oil Competition.
Vasilis Frantzolas, from Greece, is an olive oil taster and quality consultant with a M.Sc. in Food Policy from the City University of London. Vasilis originally became an agronomist engineer and then followed civil engineering, M.Sc. (Athens) and construction management, M.Sc. (USA). In 2009 he completed his studies at City University London with a Master’s Degree in Food Policy. His training in the sensory evaluation of olive oils began in 2003 at a seminar financed by the EU in Sparti, Greece. He has attended various seminars in Greece and Italy concerning the sensory evaluation of olive oil. In 2012 he completed successfully a series of organoleptic seminars organized by the National Association of Italian olive oil tasting (ONAOO). He is a member of the international group of olive oil experts «Varietals» engaged in the monitoring of high-quality extra virgin olive oils in various Mediterranean countries. In March 2013 he was responsible for the selection and production of a a new olive oil labelled “Pelion Olive Farms”, an organic olive oil made from early harvested “Amfissis” olives. Pelion Olive Farms won five major international awards in the first 6 months of its placement on the market. Besides teaching in seminars (www.OliveOilSeminars.com) he provides consulting services to various companies in Greece and abroad.
Konstantinos Liris from Greece, is a Kalamata-based agronomist (MSc, MBA) and olive oil expert. He is the founder of “Iris”, a newly established Greek private company providing consulting services to the wider agricultural and agri-food sector. He also cooperates with companies as an independent contractor on international olive oil trading. In 2013/2014 he was chief olive oil trader and taster for Salov Spa (Filippo Berio) responsible for the markets of Greece and Turkey. Earlier, from 2010 to 2013, he was responsible for the standardization of olive oil, olives and raisins for the Union of Agricultural Cooperatives of Messinia (Greece’s biggest olive oil cooperative) as Director for its agricultural industries, while previously (1998-2010) he served as Export and Quality Control Manager for the same company. Konstantinos has participated in many olive oil conferences in Greece and abroad and has been among the team of judges at the NUIOOC since 2014.
Sara Godena works as a Research Associate at the Department of Agriculture and Nutrition of the Institute of Agriculture and Tourism in Poreč (Croatia). She won two COI scholarships: in 2014 she attended an university specialization course in the organoleptic assesment of virgin olive oil at the University of Jaén and in 2015 she attended an advanced course on Integrated Olive Crops which was organized at the CIHEAM – Mediterranean Agronomic Institute of Zaragoza (IAMZ). In 2008 she attended also a course of the International School of Sensory Analysis and Food Culture O.L.E.A. in Pesaro (Italy). She is author and co-author of many scientific and professional papers, and she partecipated in many national, international and EU projects. She is on the nacional list of sensory evaluators of virgin olive oils of the Ministry of Agriculture in Croatia since 2010, and she is a member and recently a deputy of head of the professional, authorized and official panel of the Institute of Agriculture and Tourism in Poreč (Croatia). She partecipated as a member of international panels of VOO: New York International Olive Oil Competition (NYIOOC) in 2013 and Copenhagen International Olive Oil Awards (CIOOA) in 2014 and 2015.
Richard Wolny from Germany is a copy writer and food writer who has been working in the wine and olive oil business for 18 years. He is responsible for the “Experience the World of Olive Oil” show at Biofach the world’s leading trade fair for organic food, taking place in Nuremberg. This special show allows all visitors of the fair to taste different olive oils in one place. In addition to this, Richard Wolny is in charge of the Olive Oil Award of Biofach. An award where the visitors select the best olive oils in a blind tasting and where the winners receive the prize on site during the fair. Being associated with the German Olive Oil Panel (DOP) Richard Wolny is a member of the German network of panel tasters, which allows him to foster the communication amongst olive oil experts in Germany.
Eleni Katsirma, from Greece, is an oenologist and spirits technologist and a Diploma student of the Wine & Spirit Education Trust Institute. From 2000 to 2005 she worked in the wine industry as an oenologist and in the restaurant industry as a sommelier. For the past ten years she has been in charge of communication and PR for the imports department of one of Greece’s most important fine wine distribution companies. She is a permanent member of various tasting panels in the wine, spirits and food sectors. In 2010 she joined the first group of Greek sommeliers who were educated as accredited as Extra Virgin Olive Oil tasters. From 2012 she is official member of the accredited sommelier’s olive oil tasting panel and in 2014 she participated in the first evaluation of typical organoleptic characteristics of Greek PDO Extra Virgin Olive Oils. This is the first time that she participates in an International Olive Oil competition as a judge.
Panos Paganis, from Greece, has studied computer programming and analysis and currently lives in Gargaliani, Messinia. Panos is carrying on a family farming tradition that can be traced back many generations, producing olive oil in one of the most important regions for olive oil production in Greece. He is an active member of the agricultural cooperative of Gargaliani and was an active member of the “Nea Epochi” (“New Age”) group of producers, which won numerous national awards and was a Mario Solinas finalist in 2008. Panos is an accredited panel member of the Kalamata Olive Oil Taste Laboratory since 2009. Part of the Technological Educational Institute of the Peloponnese (a higher educational institution in Kalamata), the Kalamata Olive Oil Taste Laboratory is recognized by the International Olive Council for conducting sensory analysis of olive oil. Panos is also a member of the table olive taste panel of the same laboratory. Panos has attended numerous national and international educational programs in olive oil tasting. As a panel member, he has contributed to the research work of the laboratory on sensory analysis, has participated in local and regional olive oil taste competitions and provides consultation on olive oil quality.
Dr. Kiki Zinoviadou
Dr. Kiki Zinoviadou from Greece is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Food Science and Technology, Perrotis College, American Farm School. She holds a PhD in Food Science from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki and a MSc. in Ingredient Functionality from Wageningen University the Netherlands. She has attended various seminars concerning the sensory evaluation of olive oil and is one of the principal scientists of the Perrotis College “Krinos” Olive Centre. She has authored and co-authored many scientific publications and has participated in various national and international conferences.
Odysseas Vlachavas from Greece is an olive oil producer based in the Chalkidiki region of Northern Greece. After studying physiotherapy in Greece and Germany, Odysseas worked in sales for various companies before deciding in 2009 to follow his passion, the production of olive oil. Odysseas is an accredited, by Paratus Europe, olive oil taster and has attended numerous seminars on olive oil tasting, quality control and blending. He recently organized a workshop on olive oil good practices with the support of the Chalkidiki Chamber of Commerce.