Why An Olive Oil Store?
While on a trip to Sicily a few years ago, I asked the chef at our B&B where we could buy the delicious olive oil he had served us at dinner. “It’s my own, from my private olive grove,” he replied. Then he slapped his hand on the table and said, “and you can be assured these are my olives because I take them to the frantoio myself and I stay there until every last olive has been crushed.”
At the time, we had no idea what he was referring to, but over the course of our stay we heard tales of olive oil fraud, theft and adulteration. On subsequent trips to Italy, we sought out opportunities to learn more. We attended cooking classes, we tasted balsamic vinegars in Modena, we toured olive presses in Chianti, Sicily and Calabria, and we bought directly from artisan oil producers and drizzled it over our food. Neither of us had thought much about polyphenols and oleic acid, but within a few weeks I noticed my skin problems had cleared up. Soon Matt’s knees were no longer swollen, and we felt healthier overall.
A week after we returned home I heard the olive oil author, Tom Mueller, being interviewed on our local radio, and suddenly I understood what we had been experiencing. The real Extra Virgin Olive Oil is truly a nutritional supplement, and both of us had been benefiting from its amazing health properties. I bought his book, Extra Virginity, read it twice and bought copies for everybody for Christmas presents. Here I was buying the freshest, organic produce from local farmers, and suddenly I realized I had no idea what was in my bottle of olive oil or whether it even was olive oil. From then on we were mail-ordering excellent oils and balsamic vinegar from a store that tested each olive oil for its freshness and health-giving properties. On our travels throughout Italy and North America we visited as many olive oil specialty stores as we could. After using and cooking with these quality products for a number of years, we decided to open the Sunshine Coast Olive Oil Co. in Gibsons Landing.
Sunshine Coast Olive Oil Co. is part of the exclusive Ultra Premium (UP) program. This ensures that everyone involved in bringing this olive oil to your table – everyone from the farmer to the shipper to us, your retailer – must adhere to a strict code of ethics and standards to ensure that your olive oil is the freshest and highest quality available. Browse our Ultra Premium Olive Oils.
Both Matt and Fiona have attended Olive Oil conferences and summits, and have studied olive oil tasting and sensory defects at the UC Davis Olive Oil Centre, with Applied Sensory and with the ONAOO (Organizzazione Nazionale Assagiatori Olio di Oliva) based out of Genoa, Italy. The ONAOO is the most established and respected olive oil tasting school in the world.
Matt was born on Vancouver Island and grew up in Victoria. When he came home with forms to apply for the football team, his parents said the sport was too dangerous — but they agreed he could take up any other activity so he started rockclimbing. After graduating from the Outdoor Recreation Management program at Capilano College, he left his beloved West Coast to start up the indoor climbing program at the University of Calgary. He became a member of the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides and designed climbing walls for schools, hospitals and private facilities. Five years later he opened his own indoor climbing centre, The Stronghold, which still provides educational and healthy-lifestyle opportunities for people of all ages and abilities. Every spring break brought Matt and Fiona back to the coast, and on a camping trip in 2000 they first visited the Sunshine Coast and realized they had found paradise. After repeat visits to this beautiful part of the world, they bought a house in Gibsons in 2005, sold The Stronghold and settled in. Since moving back to the coast, Matt has kept active in the local mountain biking community and volunteering with Fiona for the Helping Hand dinner for those in need.
Fiona grew up in Montreal and completed a conservatory degree in music. After starting her bachelor’s degree at McGill, she began to wonder what life outside of a practice room might be. Not sure what this might entail, she took a year and half of pre-med sciences, which included courses in chemistry and biochemistry. Looking for a complete change, she moved to Calgary to pursue her Bachelor’s in Kinesiology with a specialty in Outdoor pursuits. Soon she was taking clients on extended trips in the Grand Canyon and on the West Coast Trail or cycling on the Gulf Islands. Food was always a big part of these trips, and inspired by her studies in sports nutrition she began teaching courses at the University of Calgary on how to prepare healthy, delicious meals for extended wilderness trips. Music remained a huge part of her life, and she taught piano in Calgary for over twenty years, where she also worked as a teaching assistant for the University’s Italian department and as a part-time translator. Since moving to Gibsons, Fiona has taken up vegetable gardening and tai chi and hiding rocks in Matt’s backpack in hopes of keeping up with him on her mountain bike. Both Matt and Fiona have attended Olive Oil conferences and summits, and have studied olive oil tasting and sensory defects with the ONAOO (Organizzazione Nazionale Assagiatori Olio di Oliva) based out of Genoa, Italy. The ONAOO is the most established and respected olive oil tasting school in the world.