Obsessed with Olive Oil

Interview with Fil Bucchino on his film about EVOO and the passionate artisans that bring it to your table.

Who are you and what do you do FIl?

Along with being involved in music professionally, I spend much of my days advocating for and educating people about olive oil. I was born in Florence, Italy, and now live with my family in Toronto, Canada, where I have been for most of my adult life.

I am a certified olive oil taster (which is similar to a sommelier in the wine industry), a contest judge and olive oil producer. I collaborate with chefs and restaurants on olive centric dishes and events, and consult with various chambers of commerce.

Yearly, I travel back to Italy to produce, test and airship a limited amount of premium extra virgin olive oil. I do this with Abandoned Grove, a collective of olive oil producers and farmers who have worked to bring olive groves once abandoned back to life.

This past year we have also been screening our (award-winning) documentary Obsessed with Olive Oil at film festivals throughout the world. The film focuses on the passion behind the people in olive oil, and we are looking to make it available to everyone this year.

Why olive oil?

The passion of people in the pursuit of something they love has always fascinated me. I’ve always focused on finding art in everything, whether in music, medicine, or fine foods. There is something immensely satisfying about introducing people to incredible olive oils, to have them taste the difference and to share in their excitement.

The new generation of olive oil producers, tasters and aficionados are inspiring. A lucky moment that connected me to oil at a very early age was when we immigrated to Canada during a time when there was limited access to Italian products. My parents, both Italian doctors, were passionate ambassadors of the Mediterranean diet in the early 90s and started to import olive oil from Tuscany every harvest.

Then about ten years ago, I realized that not all olive oils are created equal, my mind was blown when I started tasting properly produced oils and realized that tradition and quality are two very different things. I became obsessed, I started participating in every harvest, travelling anywhere I could that had an olive tree or a mill, I wanted to know everything I could about the olive. I then enrolled to become a professional taster with ONAOO in Imperia, and later was enlisted in the Italian National Directory of technicians and experts of virgin and extra virgin olive oil.

Abandoned Grove Project

I became saddened and, at the same time, fascinated with the state of abandoned groves across Italy. I was saddened because the commercialized industry keeps driving the prices lower, although with beautiful labels and marketing, but with drastically a lower quality product.

This has pushed many good people away from the boutique production of olive oil. This commercialization has and will inevitably continue to hurt communities. Still, I am fortunate and fascinated to have met people that saw the glass half full, and that no matter the difficulties, maintain an intimate connection to the land, and understand what these groves mean to the landscape, the heritage of the people, and that by restoring these groves to produce quality olive oil season after season is the most beautiful, healthy and delicious way to showcase their passion, love, personality and the unique terroir of a region. More