Tracy Lockhart, Alice Wiegand and Anne Eren all grew up with families who loved using olive oil in their everyday cooking. The three friends wanted more robust, flavorful olive oil options for their own families. So they teamed up with an importer who works with farmers from Chile to Portugal who follow a specific set of protocols such as harvesting olives early and processing them within a few hours after harvest. The Olive Scene’s three locations — with a fourth location expected to open this month — now boast more than 20 varieties of olive oils and vinegars.
Mixing Business: The group was looking for a business they could start together. During their individual travels abroad, each woman discovered olive oils unlike the ones they were used to using at home. “Olive oil was at the top of our list because it was not readily available,” says Lockhart. “We almost called [our business] Two Italians and a Greek.”
Taste Maker: You could call Lockhart an olive oil expert — she tastes up to 50 different varietals of olive oil to decide which ones to stock in the store. She also urges people to go beyond just thinking of using their olive oil as a dip for fresh bread or as a salad dressing. “Adding olive oil to your smoothie significantly increases the nutrients and keeps you fuller longer,” she says.
Branching Out: Becoming an aficionado took time, says Lockhart. “The applications outside of a traditional Mediterranean dinner were new to us,” she says. The women are continually experimenting with new uses — even for their line of vinegars. Lockhart suggests adding a splash of Olive Scene’s lemongrass mint white balsamic vinegar to your mint julep recipe for a touch of tartness and complexity. “The vinegar offsets the sweetness of the mint syrup and brings a unique twist to a traditional drink.” Various locations, theolivescene.com