I’m Kathryn Tomajan, an olive miller, taster and educator. In 2012 I graduated with a master’s degree in food culture from the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Pollenzo, Italy. On a class trip to Tuscany, we visited a prominent olive oil producer who led us through a tasting. In addition to tasting fresh olive for the first time, I also learned about the quality and labeling issues in the global olive oil market. From that moment on, I centered my studies on olive oil. My master’s thesis research, focused on the opportunities and challenges for New World oil, took me from Italy to Australia and back to my home state of California.
Since then, I’ve trained my palate, turned my research into educational programs, and milled award-winning olive oil on two continents. With all the projects I work on, my goal is to expanding olive oil's place in American food culture.
I spent two seasons milling with Camilo Olives in Victoria, Australia, working with OlioMio mills. One of the oils I produced there won Best of Show at Olive Japan. In addition, I spent a season at Il Fiorello in Fairfield, California. I'm currently working with Enzo Olive Oil Company in California's San Joaquin Valley.
I was a guest lecturer at the National Association of Olive Oil Tasters (ONAOO) tasting course in Imperia, Italy. Following that, in March of 2014, I organized the first comprehensive olive oil tasting course in New York City in partnership with ONAOO, Eataly, and the Mario Batali restaurant group. In 2015, I was elected to the California Olive Oil Council’s Board of Directors with a special focus on marketing and outreach.
Currently, I serve on the California Olive Oil Council Sensory Panel to taste, grade and certify extra virgin olive oils. I’ve also had the pleasure of judging at the Good Food Awards in San Francisco for the past three years. I regularly develop and lead training seminars for the olive oil industry, food professionals and regular folks alike.
Prior to graduate school, I had the good fortune of working with outstanding chefs and food system visionaries at Bon Appetit Management Company (BAMCO), where I spent three years as northern California’s regional marketing director. I’m also the director of Eat Retreat, an event company and national network of food leaders, which I founded in 2011.
Please get in touch if you'd like to know more and have an idea for collaboration!