Imagine being surrounded by a sea of olive groves, chainsaw sounding machinery, dozens of olive pickers and no way out…

This is what the crew of a new series would routinely find as they shot across the Peloponnese, Lesvos, Athens, Sicily, Apulia and the Amalfi Coast.

The new series, ‘An Olive Tale’, which is about to be pitched to networks has explored the fascinating history of olives stretching back to ancient times. The series takes a look at the nutritional elements, culinary delights, health benefits, religious uses and beauty products as well as commerce of olives, how they are farmed and then prepared for consumption.

Held together through the narration of Australian based, Mimmo Lubrano, CEO of Sandhurst Fine Foods, and a lifelong fan of olives. Mimmo can recite every point about olives for hours! Just have a coffee with him at his Sutherland HQ and you will soon understand that olives are “his thing.”

Mimmo has been an olive fan since he was a boy, being introduced to the tastes of olives from an Italian family that was heavily involved in the local food industry.

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Countless visits to Greece ensured that Mimmo remains a devotee of olives, and other products from Greece as well as his ancestral Italy.

Each episode is a multi-sensorial journey, introducing viewers to exquisite scenery and showcasing this ancient fruit’s myriad of applications.

George Roussos who shared a coffee with Neos Kosmos in Athens recently, and a business associate of Mimmo, made the point that many countries have olives and associated produce. This includes olive oil, olive soap, olive scents, olive dips, but it is Greece who leads the way. As George pointed out, perhaps slightly biased, the production and care that Greeks allocate to the industry ensures that Greece has some of the best products in the world for the industry.

The show’s producer, Billy Cotsis, explained, “viewers will enjoy the engaging stories and insight into the world of olives in the second and third largest olive producing markets in the world. Very few series attempt to mesh countries, stories and produce the way we have. We all know that Italy and Greece have many similarities, with olives being just one facet where the countries overlap.”

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The show brings us a range of interesting human elements to the olive industry. From the brilliant history and analysis of Mr Bayiokos, Local Coordinator of the Olive Museum in Sparta, who gives us some serious insight into Olive production and history in the region, to the wonderful story of Lauren Birmingham Piscitelli. Laura fell in love with Italy on a visit when she was in school. She married an Italian and now delivers the fascinating Cooking Vacations concept in Italy.

Other highlights include how a business executive, Armando Balestrazzi, decided one day to buy a vast olive grove outside Brindisi, Apulia and has since developed an agritourism property that is open 365 days a year. Masseria Il Frantoio has a museum, olive picking and processing, restaurant, a pool and classic beetle VW that Mr Balestrazzi drives across the approximate 80 hectares of the property.

In the Peloponnese, the crew met a very hospitable and well travelled educator, Tassos Anestis who owns Rhizoma Olive Farms near Kranidi, which has been in operation for three generations; and then spent time speaking to James Roubis who splits his time between Sydney and Vlahioti near Sparta, following one of his passions, producing olives. These two men are great examples of people who put their hearts and souls into producing olive oil and olives.

Throughout the two pilot episodes, ‘An Olive Tale’ introduces viewers to Greek and Italian olive connoisseurs, growers and producers. Episode 1 demonstrates how olives are sourced in Greece and Italy and prepared and packaged specifically for the Australian market through companies such as Sandhurst Fine Foods.

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Mimmo, who doubles up as a guitarist in a band when he isn’t in the office, went on to tell Neos Kosmos, “in the Mediterranean kitchen, olive oil is what fuels the meal creation and is often the inspiration behind many dishes. That sentiment should come through in the series. As a staple in the European diet especially the Greeks, olive oil has been used for thousands of years for everything from lighting lamps and making soaps, to what is now famous for – cooking.”

Another highlight contained in the pilot series is a visit to the Modousa Organic Olive Oil headquarters on Lesvos to meet a co-operative of farmers. The visit was coordinated by Sydney siders Myrsini and Spiro Bougoukas with the show’s producer, Billy Cotsis, where he soon found, randomly, a long-lost cousin! His cousin’s parents had met many decades ago gathering olives during the picking season in a remote part of the island.

Another key moment for the crew was meeting Pavlos Kaplanis from Olive Tasting Tour Kalamata Ben Olive Mill Parapougki, whose property dates back to Ottoman occupation. Pavlos is no stranger to international limelight, having featured on a range of TV programs talking about olives.

The show is co-produced with Ana Sevo from MerakiTv and it is hoped that after the success of ‘My Greek Odyssey’ on Channel Seven, a network will similarly take a punt with ‘An Olive Tale’, as there are hundreds of stories to be told.

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