Paolo Pasquali was an enlightened entrepreneur with a deep sensibility – an innovator and a true visionary, among others.
Founder of the first olive oil station, he made a significant contribution to the spread of the cultivation of high quality extra virgin olive oil internationally. Last week, he died at the age of 70 from complications from Covid-19.
Paolo slipped among the tables. He was handsome and tanned and wore a white tuxedo. He could have been James Bond.
“Paolo was an inspiring pioneer in olive oil tourism, an innovative designer and a fine and deeply informed producer of extra virgin olive oil, ”said Simon Poole, co-organizer of the Values Conferences food. “He was also a gentleman of extraordinary warmth, hospitality, generosity, passion and vision.
After studying philosophy and music, Pasquali enjoyed a successful management career in the publishing industry.
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His passion for all things olive oil officially began at the end of the 1980s, when he became the owner of a magnificent estate nestled in the Mugello hills, north of Florence, Villa Campestri. He planted an olive grove, became a taster, and began to intensively study olive cultivation and oil production.
“These years have been characterized by a great desire to know more about the extraordinary properties of liquid gold and whole days spent between the olive trees and the mill, talking and discussing with experienced olive growers ”, he added. he once said Olive Oil Times.
He devoted himself to research and education. At the same time, Villa Campestri has become a brand of olive oil tourism. At its heart is the Oleoteca, a meeting point for olive oil experts and enthusiasts and a hotbed of innovative ideas. Here, Pasquali imagined OliveToLive, a patented system for the optimal preservation of the oil, which allows it to be served as it is freshly extracted.
“My offer to those who want to know all this valuable information about extra virgin olive oil is to contribute to its dissemination while providing a place to exhibit this culture, ”he said.
Pasquali has also participated in numerous conferences and events internationally, which led to his involvement with the UC Davis Olive Center and the Culinary Institute of America, where he collaborated with leading experts in the field. He later helped organize the Beyond Extra Virgin conference cycle.
It’s hard to describe someone like Paolo in a few lines: eclectic, charismatic and innovative. He was a special person and a visionary businessman.
“My first impression of Paolo was formed at the gala dinner of the first Beyond Extra Virgin conference at UC Davis in 2007, ”recalls Dan Flynn, former executive director of UC Davis Olive Center. “Paolo slipped among the tables. He was handsome and tanned and wore a white tuxedo. He could have been James Bond. ‘He’s the most good-natured man I’ve ever seen, I cried to the person next to me.
“I learned that beneath the suave exterior was a jazz pianist, a media entrepreneur, a philosophy professor, a four-star hotelier, a historical curator, a Renaissance expert, an olive grower and an oil mill ”, Flynn added. “Kindness, generosity and kindness came from his heart. He believed that the beauty of olive oil needed new ways of expression.
“No one other than Paolo would have thought of ordering a piece of music dedicated to the characteristic qualities of olive oil: fruity, bitterness and spicy, ”he continued. “I will remember his passion, his idealism and his desire to take us all with him to the next level.
Greg Drescher, vice president of the Culinary Institute of America, also praised his friend, telling Olive Oil Times that he would be sadly missed for enriching the cultural heritage of olive oil in the world.
“Paolo was a great friend and a rare bird. One got a window into his passion for life, art and people when he welcomed you into his wonderful obsession with the world of olive oil, ”he said. “Yes, for Paolo the Oleoteca of his beloved Villa Campestri in the Mugello hills was a physical place – and a magical place to boot – but, more importantly, it was an invitation to a delicious discovery at the crossroads of so many creative impulses. . “
“He loved spending time with our chefs, linking their intimate knowledge of flavor architecture to his pursuit of technical excellence in making great oils, ”added Drescher. “And then he asked a question that has driven years of his work: How could we better preserve the richness of aesthetic experience latent in these oils when they are far from their source? Paolo’s vision has greatly enriched the world cultural heritage of olive oil. To all who knew him, he will be sorely missed.
Paolo was a Renaissance man. Through what he did for olive oil and Tuscany, he exemplified the traits that made Florence the center of the world during the Renaissance.
Pasquali then launched the ‘Lectures on food values. He summoned international academics to Italy in the name of a renaissance of the Mediterranean diet and the key role of extra virgin olive oil.
“Paolo was a Renaissance man, ”said Jean-Xavier Guinard, of the UC Davis Olive Center. “Through what he did for olive oil and Tuscany, he exemplified the traits that made Florence the center of the world during the Renaissance. I can’t help but draw a parallel between his flair for design, innovation, risk and beauty and the creative passion of the technicians and entrepreneurs who surround us today.
“It is no coincidence that a superb musician like him was able to make such delicious olive oil. The sensory modalities interact and align, and Paolo could play any sensory note – musical, aromatic or flavorful, with equal ease and pleasure, whether he was sitting at the piano or crafting olive oils. ” , he added. “On a personal level, Paolo was all about family and friends – making everyone happy and pushing us all to always give the best of ourselves.
With the Carlo Collodi Foundation, Pasquali launched a food education project for children, aimed at promoting the consumption of extra virgin olive oil and the Mediterranean diet since childhood.
“It’s hard to describe someone like Paolo in a few lines: eclectic, charismatic and innovative. He was a special person and a visionary businessman, ”said Francesco Sofi, co-organizer of the Food Values Conferences at the University of Florence. “Even with an age difference, we immediately found ourselves in sync as he was one of those rare people in life that you meet who touch you for their simplicity, their depth and the passion they put into what they do. do.
“We succeeded from scratch to create an international conference on the role of food and olive oil, ”he added. “It has always been done with the love of beautiful things that governed his life. I will miss him so much, and I think the whole community will miss him.
He still had many plans in the works shared with his beloved daughters Gemma and Viola and his precious collaborators. Now they will continue his legacy.