The Interview: Steven Jenkins Talks Olive Oil
Steven Jenkins is a founder and partner of Olive Oil Jones, an online merchant of some of the greatest olive oils and vinegars from the Mediterranean region. Steve formed the company with his wife Michelle Sims after spending decades as one of New York’s premier food merchants as an early partner in Fairway, which may now be a chain but in the beginning was a fabled New York grocer. He left Fairway and tried retirement for a couple of years but was drawn back to the food world to launch Olive Oil Jones.
Today Steve Jenkins sells what he deems the best oils in the world, all of them notable for being early harvests which he says produce the best flavor and health benefits from higher levels of anti-oxidants. Working from a warehouse in the Bronx, his oils are delivered by the barrel from Spain, Portugal, and Italy, and then decanted to order into one-liter bottles which are shipped to customers across the country.
In this conversation with The City Cook, we spoke with Steve about what makes a great olive oil and how home cooks can choose well when confronted by the scores of choices in our markets and online. He spoke at length about terminology both familiar (unfiltered, extra virgin, cold pressed, blended oils) and new (cultivars, phenols, early harvest), gave guidance on what a good bottle of oil should cost, explained the differences between geography and country, and how we get from a hillside of land somewhere near the Mediterranean to the liquid so many of us add to our food every day.