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Judges

ATHENA 2021

The panel consists of judges with many years of experience in the organoleptic assessment of olive oil, judges accredited by the International Olive Council (IOC) or by other international or national bodies.


José María Penco

Spain

Panel Leader, ATHENA IOOC

José María Penco is an agronomist, consultant, manager and olive farmer in Cordoba. He holds a BSc in Agricultural Engineering 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 from the University of Cordoba. He is currently Director for the Association of Spanish Olive Oil Municipalities (AEMO), an organization made up of 170 communities across Spain and Executive Secretary of the Euro-Mediterranean Network of Olive Oil Cities (Recomed), an association that encompasses 10 Mediterranean olive-growing countries.

Previous to this, José María has worked as a project designer for more than 15 years, developing multiple food industry projects, especially in relation to olive oil. Early on in his career he worked as an agronomist for the government of Cádiz and as a manager for agribusiness companies in the oil and wine sectors. He is the author of several scientific papers on the production of olives and olive oil and has lectured at various national and international forums on contemporary olive cultivation techniques, cost and market analysis and quality control. He is a member of several tasting panels in Spain including those of Cádiz, Cordoba and Seville, and is a renown international judge and director of the EVOOLEUM international olive oil competition.

Maria de la Paz Aguilera Herrera

Spain

Maria de la Paz Aguilera Herrera holds a B.Sc in Biology from the University of Granada and a PhD in Chemical Sciences from the University of Jaén. She has more than 20 years experience in the production of olive oil and was for many years panel leader and head of the innovative “Experimental Cooking with Olive Oil” programme at the Center for Olive and Olive Oil Technologies (Citoliva), in Jaén. In 2019 she joined the Superior Facultative Body of the Junta de Andalucía as a specialist technician in the food and health derpartment of IFAPA (Institute of Agricultural and Fisheries Research and Training of the Ministry of Agriculture). Her main lines of research have focused on the differentiated quality of EVOOs and improving the lipid profile after its incorporation into the food chain.

Over the past 15 years she has participated as a judge in numerous national and international competitions and has been part of the Evooleum and Iberoleum guide books since their first editions. She has published more than 30 articles in international journals as well as several research papers in important scientific publications. She is co-author of several specialized books including “Manual of Olive Oil Tasting and Pairing” and “Olive Cultivation”, currently in its 6th edition.

Angelo Lo Conte

Italy

Angelo Lo Conte is an olive oil expert in the fields of traceability, quality assessment and control. Following his degree in Agricultural Sciences and Technologies from the Faculty of Agriculture of Portici (Naples), Angelo held positions as both teacher and consultant with trade bodies such as the Salerno Olive Oil Association and the Association of Olive Oil Tasters in Naples. He is accredited as a taster and panel leader by the IOC-recognized relevant Italian Ministry of Education programme. He was part of the team that led to the delimitation of the PDO Irpinia-Colline dell’Ufita EVOO region and since 2003 is a founding member of the Èlaion Association, creator of the Ex Olivis event in Ariano where the Tricolle national EVOO competition is organized. Mr Lo Conte has been the curator for the Campania and Basilicata Regions for the Slow Food Extra Virgin Olive Oil Guide.

Alexandra Kicenik Devarenne

California, USA

Alexandra Kicenik Devarenne, olive oil consultant, writer and educator, is CEO of the Extra Virgin Alliance (EVA), an international 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. She is the author of “Olive Oil: A Field Guide” from AOCS Press. She has taught olive oil tasting classes in cooperation with IRTA, The Olive Oil Sommeliers of Japan, The Culinary Institute of America, The Los Angeles County Fair, UC Davis, and many others. She serves as a judge and advisor for various California and international olive oil competitions and chairs the Napa Valley Olive Oil Competition. Alexandra has presented papers at many olive oil conferences, shows and symposia in the US and abroad, focusing on olive oil sensory education, communication, marketing and quality. She co-chairs a workgroup and works on the organizing committee for the Yale Olive Institute initiative. Beginning with research reports at the University of California Cooperative Extension, she has written on many aspects of olive oil for both popular and scholarly publications, contributing chapters to the international book “Olive Oil Sensory Evaluation” from Wiley and the UC Organic Olive Production Manual. Her consulting work focuses on all aspects of improving olive oil quality, from helping clients select the best olive cultivars for their needs to creating outstanding blends and telling their story in the marketplace

Manolis Fafoutakis

Greece

Manolis Fafoutakis is based in Ierapetra, Crete, and is the director of the department of olive oil for Chemicotechniki Laboratories. He is an analytical chemist with more than 36 years of experience in the quality control of olive oil and is himself an olive oil producer. During his long career Manolis has been in charge of several chemical testing laboratories specializing in olive oil. His current employer was the first in Greece to be accredited according to EN ISO/IEC 17025 for the determination of the chemical parameters specified in the European Regulation for Olive Oil and it is recognized by the International Olive Council.

He is a member of the tasting panel at Chemicotechniki and he also participates as a judge in the olive oil competition of Crete. His many years of experience and expertise in olive oil analysis and organoleptic assessment have established him as a valuable advisor to olive oil professionals.

María Eugenia Fernández

Argentine

María Eugenia Fernández is a chemical engineer from Argentina and a permanent resident of Madrid, Spain. She first came to Europe on a study scholarship from German organization DAAD to study a semester the University in Esslingen and then did an internship at BASF working at their headquarters in Ludwigshafen, Germany. Upon her return to Argentina she joined several multinational companies such as Techint Group as a process engineer and Dow Chemical as a technical service and development engineer.

After working for those companies in Buenos Aires she decided to go back to her hometown Córdoba and become an entrepreneur. She started her own small business in olive oil called “PrimaPrensa” where she found her true passion, gaining experience in sales, marketing and client relations. She branched out in the olive oil industry as plant manager at the main company in Uruguay, Nuevo Manantial and she also worked for Solfrut Argentina as quality manager. She assisted many companies in Argentina, Uruguay and Chile as an external consultant gaining in the process a sponsorship to follow the olive oil tasting programme at the University of Jaén. Soon thereafter she decided to make Spain her permanent home and olive oil her life’s work.

Dr. Richard Gawel

Australia

Dr Richard Gawel has judged in over 30 national and international EVOO competitions including the Australian and New Zealand Nationals, the Los Angeles International, Sol D’ Oro (Verona) and Olives Japan. Richard trained and headed the first Southern Hemisphere taste panel recognized by the International Olive Council. He was the inaugural lecturer in sensory science at the University of Adelaide, and later taught principles of food and wine matching at the Le Cordon Bleu culinary school. He has authored several peer-reviewed papers on the bitterness and pungency of phenolic compounds and on the consistency of expert tasters in judging situations. He currently is a consultant taster and blender for the Australian olive industry and conducts full time research on taste active polyphenols. He holds several degrees from Australian universities: BSc Adelaide-Roseworthy, Graduate Diploma in Wine, Dip.Ed. Adelaide, PhD Deakin University at Geelong, Victoria.

Brígida Jiménez Herrera

Spain

BBrígida Jiménez Herrera is a PharmD (Doctor of Pharmacy) with an MBA in Business Administration and a diploma in fats and oils from the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC). Since 1990 she is the director of the Agricultural Training Research Centre of Cabra, in Córdoba. The Olivar Center, within this institution, specializes in oil olive oil and table olives. She has extensive experience in research and development projects and in the sensory analysis of extra virgin olive with numerous participations in major local, national and international panels and competitions.

As a scientist she has participated in numerous conferences, national and international and has received many awards, such as the “Andres Nunez de Prado Organic Livestock Award” for her research in agriculture and for her papers on “Phenolic compounds with a beneficial health effect in Picual EVOOs” and “Comparative study of organic farming vs conventional farming”; the Olivar de Jaén Prize for her efforts to spread the Culture of the Olive Grove; the Olivar Award for her dedicated promotion of the olive and olive oil; the Weevil Award, by DOP Priego de Córdoba for her continued support for the operation and development of the appellation, and the Table Olive Award by the Foundation for the Development and Promotion of the Table Olive in Córdoba.

Maria Kalitsounaki

Greece

Maria Kalitsounaki is a chemist educated at the University of Crete. During the past twelve years she has taught chemistry and undertaken numerous research projects in analytical chemistry for the University of Crete and other institutions. Maria has worked in the field of quality control for the Union of Agricultural Cooperatives of Monofatsi, Crete, and is currently the owner of a private chemical laboratory near Heraklion, specializing in analysis of wine, olive oil, water, soil and food as well as offering consultancy services to Cretan olive oil mills. She is a member of the olive oil tasting panel of Heraklion, a member of the Kalamata Olive Oil School and a judge at the annual Cretan olive oil competition.

Stamoula (Tammy) Karambelas

Greece

Tammy Karambelas is a Greek-Australian accredited EVOO taster currently in charge of exports and marketing for Olympian Green International, an olive-oil production and distribution company. Tammy has vast experience in exports having worked in this sector for over 20 years. After earning a Bachelor of Applied Science in Mathematics and Computer Science from Swinburne University of Technology in Adelaide, she pursued a Bachelor of Economics in Business Administration from the Hellenic Open University and, more recently, a Certification of Training in Olive Oil Tasting from Organizzazione Nazionale Assaggiatori Olio di Oliva (ONAOO, Italy) and the IOC’s University course on the Organoleptic Assessment of Olive Oil at the University of Jaen (Spain).

Nicolas Koutsoukos

Greece

Νicolas Koutsoukos is a chemist and founder-president of the Kalamata Olive Oil School. He is an accredited EVOO taster and member of the tasting panel of the Greek Agricultural Organization “Demeter”. He is a consultant to numerous olive oil mills and a quality consultant to a number of companies in the olive-oil sector. Nicolas has more than 30 years of experience in the olive oil industry. Since 1994 he has been the chief chemical analyst of the "Peter Boufeas" chemical laboratory in Kalamata and, prior to this role, he was in charge of quality control at "Greek Agricultural Products".

Aida Lazzez

Tunisia

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.

Johnny Madge

UK

Johnny Madge started tasting olive oil on the panel of the Slow Food Guide “Extravergini” in 2005 in Italy, where he has lived since 1982. Since then he has talked about olive oil for many radio and television programmes of the BBC and elsewhere, such as in New York at the 1st NYOOC in 2013 where he analyzed the concept of bitterness in olive oil. In 2008 he initiated the “Johnny Madge Olive Oil Tour” a multilevel programme on olive oil education for tourists, chefs and producers from all over the world. Since 2014 he has judged olive oil in international competitions such as Olive Japan, the Australian International Olive Awards and Athena. In 2017 he was awarded the Lekythos award at the Ercole Olivario Competition for the non-Italian person who distinguished himself by spreading the good word of quality Italian olive oil in Italy and abroad. Since the advent of Covid he has started holding online olive oil tastings.

Noureddine Ouazzani

Morocco

Noureddine Ouazzani is a university professor, researcher and international expert specializing on the genetics and varietal diversity of the olive tree. He holds a PhD in Agricultural Sciences and is a lecturer at the Agronomy School of Meknes, where he heads research on olive cultivation and olive oil production and leads the tasting panel. He is the founder-manager of the Meknès Agro-pôle Cluster & Center for the Investigation, Innovation and Promotion of Olive Oil and a member of the scientific committees of Les Routes de l'Olivier and the Mediterranean Network of Olive Oil Cities. He has authored and co-authored scores of scientific papers on a variety of olive oil related subjects including genetic resources, multiplication, quality and typicity of olive oil and the valuation of the biomass of the olive tree. Recognized internationally as one of the foremost olive oil experts, he is involved in many international projects regarding both research and outreach and has received several prizes and awards.

Francisco Ataide Pavao

Portugal

Francisco Manuel Aguia de Sousa Ataide Pavao, 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.

Carmen Sanchez Garcia

Spain

Carmen Sanchez Garcia is an olive oil consultant who was born in Valdepeňas, Spain and 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. Her consultancies have led her to work with many Michelin-starred chefs such as Alexandro Pape (Altes Fährhaus), Andreas Steinwandt (Kleine Brunnenstrasse) and Nelson Müller. With Munich’s Confiserie Opaque she has developed a ground-breaking series of EVOO chocolates exclusive to high gastronomy. As an educator and lecturer Carmen has led numerous events, presentations, lectures and workshops on olive oil, for prestigious entities such as Thyssen Krupp, Vitra, Anuga, Edeka Supermakets, Cervantes Institute Bremen and Google Deutschland. Recently, Carmen lectured at the Ciudad Real Chamber of Commerce and at the Mimara Museum in Zagreb. She was also a participant at the prestigious San Sebastiàn Film Festival, with Jose Luis Lopez Linares’ film Jaén Virgen Extra, in its new culinary cinema section. Carmen has judged at Biopress and Feinschmecker (Germany), at Ovibeja (Portugal) and at the Universitiy of Jaén in Spain at the Family Olive Oil competition (Israel).

Marcelo Scofano

Brazil

Marcelo Scofano is a gastronomy and culinary technologist and olive oil sensory analyst. He holds diplomas in these fields from Brazil’s Estácio de Sá University, Uruguay’s Universidad de la Republica and Spain’s IFAPA – Instituto de Investigación y Formación Agraria y Pesquera de Cabra, where he received training as a professional taster and Master in Elaiotechnique. He is a contributing editor to the book “Um fio de Azeite” (A drizzle of olive oil) by Rosa Nepomuceno and has published many articles on olive oil in Brazil. He is an active olive oil lecturer, consultant and researcher and is partner at Estilo Gourmet – Saber Culinário (Gourmet Style – Culinary Knowledge), an event management company that also provides consultancy, gastronomy courses and corporate training in Rio de Janeiro.

Chrysa Sergentani

Greece

Chrysa Sergentani is an agronomist at the Olive Tree, Subtropical Plants and Viticulture Institute of the agricultural organization “Demeter” at Chania, Crete. She is an accredited taster with the organoleptic panel of the food technology laboratory of the Institute since 2009. The panel is accredited according to the European commission regulation EEC 2568/91-ISO 17025.

Chrysa works at the Institute’s olive cultivation laboratory whose objectives are the collection and conservation of genetic material (for biodiversity protection and genetic improvement) and the identification, characterization and amelioration of Greek and foreign cultivars, so as to improve fruit and olive oil yield and quality. She has attended many seminars relative to the evaluation of olive oil and has co-authored numerous scientific publications, mainly about the cultivation of the olive tree. She is part of several national and international projects related to olive oil production and quality control.

Ehud Soriano

Israel

Ehud Soriano is an olive oil expert and consultant. He started his journey in the olive oil sector as a producer and olive oil miller and over time has become more and more enthusiastic about aspects pertaining to olive oil quality and culture. He is a graduate of the University of Jaén’s specialized course on the organoleptic assessment of extra virgin olive oil. Following his accreditation as a panel leader Ehud returned to Israel to establish the Israeli olive oil national tasting panel and the Ministry of Health tasting panel.

Ehud is part of the revolution of quality olive oil in Israel and leads many courses on tasting techniques, cultivation, production and marketing of olive oil.

He travels extensively abroad as a consultant, as an educator and as a taster with several international olive oil competitions including Ovibeja, EVO-IOOC, Evooleum, Masters of Olive Oil and Terra Olivo. He is also the professional manager of the Israeli National olive oil competitions.

Cristina Stribacu

Greece

Cristina Stribacu is a certificated olive oil taster and participates in international contests and conferences. She organizes tasting courses for schools, tasters and producers, sharing in this way the importance of EVOO production, consumption and the values of the Mediterranean diet. Her last project is a “Master on Greek Olive Oil Varietals” program organized under the umbrella of the Slow Food chapter of Messinia and in collaboration with an international advisory board. Through this project she aims to support a more sustainable olive oil agriculture, inspire EVOO producers in Greece to preserve olive oil biodiversity by cultivating native varietals and promote the importance of EVOO consumption in our daily diet. Cristina is passionate about nature and the environment. She has studied Italian Language and Art History and her entrepreneurship spirit led her to found an export-oriented Greek EVOO brand focused on super premium quality.

Tomiko Tanaka

Japan

Τomiko Tanaka is an olive oil consultant who was born in Japan and has been living in Spain for the past 17 years. She is an accredited Extra Virgin Olive Oil Taster through the University of Jaén since 2008. Over the past ten years Tomiko has refined her knowledge about extra virgin olive oil through numerous courses, travels and seminars and has focused on communicating olive oil in both Spain and Japan. She is the creator of a start-up Oleotourism project called “Viaje de Olivos” and is a regular contributor on olive oil to Spanish and Japanese food publications. Among other projects she has created an olive oil specialist course destined to introduce Japanese consumers to olive oil appreciation. For all of the above in 2013 she was nominated and won second prize for “Disseminating Olive Oil Culture” by AEMO. Tomiko has previously judged at Ovibeja (Portugal), Evooleum and Jaén Selección (Spain) and Horeca (Lebanon).

Enrique García-Tenorio

Spain

Enrique García-Tenorio, agricultural engineer and expert in international business management, is CEO of the foundation “Montes de Toledo Olive Oil” since 1998. His duties cover general management, promotion and product certification for this Protected Designation of Origin body, for which he has also drafted the application file for its EU registration and its specifications. As an olive oil taster, Enrique has qualifications as a sensory judge and panel leader and has conducted olive oil workshops and seminars across the world including most countries of the European Union, Japan, China, Korea, Mexico and the USA. He has served as judge in many international olive oil competitions such as the Spanish Ministry of Agriculture Awards, Evooleum and Iberoleum in Spain, Olive Japan and Australian International Olive Awards. Enrique has also participated in the creation and accreditation of the sensory laboratory of extra virgin olive oils owned by the Montes de Toledo foundation, which is certified by the IOOC and the Spanish Ministry of Agriculture. In addition, he is an external collaborator of the Spanish Accreditation Body (ENAC) as technical auditor for the accomplishment of product certification audits in the olive oil sector and guest speaker at several seminars on product certification and designations of origin management around the world. He is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Mediterranean Diet Foundation, representing the Montes de Toledo Foundation

Konstantinos Tsoronis

Greece

Konstantinos (Kostas) Tsoronis is a chemist specializing in olive oil technology and food safety issues. He has provided training, tasting seminars and consulting to new and established producers for over 15 years and has worked closely with numerous olive oil mills at all stages of production, from milling to refining and from evaluation to blending. Based in Kalamata, he is currently working with the Captain Vassilis & Carmen Constantakopoulos Foundation on sustainability issues and quality enhancement of local olive oil production while pursuing projects with the Organization for the Promotion of the Gastronomy of Olive Oil (Oliverse), of which he co-founded. In the past, he has worked as a scientific associate at the Technological Educational Institute of the Peloponnese, as a quality manager in olive oil mills and olive oil bottling companies, and as a consultant for ISO 9001 & ISO 22000 management systems. Konstantinos holds a Master’s Degree in food safety and quality management and is a graduate of ONAOO’s olive oil sensory analysis course in Imperia, Italy. He has also followed IOC’s university-level course on the Organoleptic Assessment of Olive Oil at the University of Jaén, Spain, and IOC’s international course for panel leaders. He is a member of Kalamata’s olive oil tasting panel and has judged in olive oil competitions at both national and international level. He is an Associate Member of the Savantes Register of international extra virgin olive oil experts

Vasiliki Vandera

Greece

Vasiliki Vandera is a chemist and olive oil expert based on the island of Lesvos. She works for the General Chemical State Laboratory, analyzing EVOO’s from the Aegean Islands. Previously she was a technical officer at the Olive Oil Analysis Laboratory in charge of quality and purity criteria. She is a member of the local IOC-accredited organoleptic panel of the Olive Oil Analysis Laboratory of Mytilene. Vasiliki holds a B.Sc. from the School of Chemistry of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki and a M.Sc. in Environmental Engineering from the University of the Aegean. Besides her work in the olive oil industry, she has worked extensively on various environmental projects with an emphasis on water and wastewater management.

Odysseas Vlachavas

Greece

Odysseas Vlachavas is an olive oil expert based in Thessaloniki, Northern Greece. After studying physiotherapy in Greece and in Germany, Odysseas worked in sales for various companies before deciding in 2009 to follow his passion, the production of olive oil. He is an accredited olive oil taster and has attended numerous seminars on olive oil tasting, quality control and blending. In 2012 he created Ellion, a company that produces high-quality olive oils and gourmet table olives based on the famous local cultivar Chalikidiki. Since 2014 Odysseas has also worked as a consultant for various Greek mills in the fields of oil production and marketing, building on his experience in blending EVOOs from different cultivars. He has led seminars on olive oils from Greece at international trade fairs (SIAL, Natural & Organic Products Europe, Detrop) and has developed a special live oil appreciation seminar for children and consumers. Recently he started collaborating with the Perrotis College “Krinos” Olive Oil Center on various research projects.

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