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.

Jose Maria Penco


Panel Leader ATHENA IOOC

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.

Lazzez Aida


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.

Marco Antonucci


Marco Antonucci is from Italy.

He is an architect, a journalist, a professional olive oil taster, a panel leader, an evo teacher and lecturer, a sensory analysis trainer and a boxes and labels designer.

For many years now he has been internationally engaged in spreading the culture of extra virgin olive oil through popular and university courses, conferences, guides, articles, podcast and books.

Alexandra Kicenic 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.Juan Ramón Izquierdo, from Spain, is a chemist. He is a civil servant for the Spanish Ministry of Agriculture where he heads the Department of Fats and Oils Analysis of the Ministry’s central laboratory (Laboratorio Arbitral Agroalimentario).

Up to 2012 he headed the tasting panel of virgin olive oil of the Ministry and is currently in charge of it. He is a member of the chemical experts group in olive oil of the European Union Commission and the International Olive Council

Manolis Fafoutakis


Manolis Fafoutakis from Ierapetra, Crete, is the director of the department of olive oil of Chemicotechniki Laboratories. He is an analytical chemist with 33 years of experience in the quality control of olive oil and he is also an olive oil producer. He has been the head of several chemical testing laboratories specialized in olive oil. His laboratory is the first in Greece to be accredited to EN ISO/IEC 17025 for the determination of all 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 of UAC Mirabello and he participates as a judge in the Cretan Olive Oil Competition. 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.

Cécile Le Galliard


After gaining a diploma in communication in France, she moved to Spain, olive oil country to continue her studies. This was where her olive oil education started, where she changed her cooking habits and became passionate about olive oil. Cécile Le Galliard is a French expert in olive oil tasting. She is graduated of the University of Jaén (Spain) in virgin olive oil tasting in 2014.

Cécile works as a consultant in olive oil in France, specializing in selecting oils, training, tasting and olive growing advice. Her olive oil blog www.jusdolive.fr written in French currently attracts more than 160,000 visitors per year. She is co-author with an other journalist, Alice Alech, of a book about health and olive oil which will be published in EEUU in early 2017, "The Seven Wonders of Olive oil". She passed the Savantes Tasting Skills test in March 2016, an individual assessment, and is now a Savantes associate.


Dr. Richard Gawel


Dr Richard Gawel, from Australia, has judged of over 30 national and international extra virgin olive oil 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 recognised 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, Graduate Diploma in Wine, Roseworthy), Dip Ed, Adelaide), including a PhD from Deakin University at Geelong, Victoria.

Sara Godena


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 a COI scholarship in 2014, when she attended a university specialization course in the organoleptic assesment of virgin olive oil at the University of Jaen. 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 participated in many national, international and EU projects. She is on the national list of sensory evaluators of virgin olive oils of the Ministry of Agriculture in Croatia since 2010 and she is a member of the professional, authorized and official panel of the Institute of Agriculture and Tourism in Poreč (Croatia) which is on the list of official panels of the European Union and on a list of panels recognized by the IOC. She has participated on several VOO international judging panels since 2013: New York International Olive Oil Competition (NYIOOC), Copenhagen International Olive Oil Awards (CIOOA), Athena International Olive Oil Competition (ATHIOOC), MonocultivarOliveOil and Domina International Olive Oil Contest (D-IOOC).

Juan Ramon Izquierdo


Juan Ramón Izquierdo, from Spain, is a chemist. He is a civil servant for the Spanish Ministry of Agriculture where he heads the Department of Fats and Oils Analysis of the Ministry’s central laboratory (Laboratorio Arbitral Agroalimentario).

Up to 2012 he headed the tasting panel of virgin olive oil of the Ministry and is currently in charge of it. He is a member of the chemical experts group in olive oil of the European Union Commission and the International Olive Council

Kostas Liris


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.

Ayala Noy Meir


Ayala Noy Meir, from Israel, is an agronomist with a Masters degree from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. She is the manager of the organic, cold press olive oil mill "Rish Lakish", cultivating more than 100 acres of organic olive trees, and a lecturer of olive oil in various forums in Israel. Following an internship in olive oil cultivation and production at Tel Hai College, Ayala followed several IOC-approved olive oil tasting courses, including the "Olive Without Borders" training course in Spain, led by Jose Maria Penco and Dr. Fathi Abd El-Hadi.

Ayala is the representative of the Organic Olive Growers on the Israeli Olive Growers Board and from 2012 to 2016 was a member of the Israeli IOC olive oil panel. She has judged at the Terraolivo and Masters of Olive Oil competitions in Israel and Italy, respectively.

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.

Carmen Sancez


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.

Chryssa Sergentani


Chrysa Sergentani, from Greece, 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 has attended many seminars concerning 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


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.

Richard Wolny


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.

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. Dr. Kiki Zinoviadou

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