Compared to the correct and appropriate use of quality oil – obtained from olives, with all its outstanding sensory, aromatic and health qualities – the professional shortcomings of those who working in kitchens have repeatedly been reported.
In particular, when it comes to operators whose work involves a high degree of coordination, with precise decision-making and planning functions, such as top chefs or kitchen managers of smaller concerns.
There are several reasons for such shortcomings, which can only in small part be attributed to the cost of the raw material. Every good professional is well aware that cost is always proportionate to performance and that, in absolute terms, a good extra-virgin olive oil’s performance can be truly wondrous: it often takes just a few drops to enhance the food.
Once this has been ascertained, we should not forget that, when using oil from quality olives, the responsibilities required in the kitchen are not insignificant, given the wide range of tasks that need to be carried out on a daily basis.
Only professional cooks and restaurateurs can properly understand the complexities of managing a kitchen and a restaurant, especially in a country like Italy, where, in addition to everything else, bureaucracy compromises much of the efficiency of a company, weighing it down with costs and unnecessarily complicated requirements.
With this in mind, trainers in the quality olive oil sector should be reminded that, in addition to providing kitchen personnel with a knowledge of the raw material with all its organoleptic qualities, they will also need solutions or examples of paths to explore, thereby facilitating their jobs.
The mistake of overloading chefs, or kitchen managers, with tasks that are impossible to follow should be avoided at all costs, not least it is more than just about the effort required: one has to taste and learn about oil, understand its aromatic potential for each recipe, imagine the possible matching solutions, try to enhance the quality of the oil without compromising the sensory, aesthetic and constructive qualities of the final dish.
A functional and effective training programme outlining the intelligent use of oil in cooking should therefore be carried out on two complementary levels: knowledge of the varieties of olives (the cultivars) and the respective quality characteristics of the oils obtained. Consequently, training on how best to use oils obtained from different varieties of olives should be performed, which involves providing them in the form of hints and suggestions, with concrete rather than theoretical or merely hypothetical solutions, all of which should be transmitted to the entire catering team, starting with the kitchen staff and then finishing with the dining room, given that interpretative sensitivity, as well as knowledge of the oils, must be assets acquired by everyone working in a restaurant.