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Meet Marianna from Oleosophia (& try her stuffed tomatoes!)

5 min read 2 Comments

Meet Marianna from Oleosophia (& try her stuffed tomatoes!)

I met Marianna from Oleosophia (oil wisdom!) last summer through our Zelos community, when chef & author Krystina Kalapothakos virtually introduced us. Krystina is a proud native of the Peloponnese region of Greece, where Oleosophia's olive groves are located, and as a successful food blogger, Krystina wanted to use their rare Manaki variety of extra virgin olive oil in her recipes. She began talking to Marianna about how to bring this unique type of Greek olive oil to the States...and that's where we at Zelos came in!

We happily picked up on the introduction and met Marianna to learn more about her company and, of course, to taste samples. We could tell that we had found a kindred spirit, and decided to add Oleosophia to our collection of authentic Greek artisanal products (scroll down to pre-order!). Marianna'a approach to her work, respecting Greece’s culinary heritage in a way that's not nostalgic but dynamic and forward thinking, embodies the "zelos", zeal that we find in all our Artisans. I hope you enjoy learning more about her as much as we did!

Maria

Order Oleosophia's Manaki Extra Virgin Olive Oil


Tell us the story behind the Oleosophia brand

OLEOSOPHIA was born out of my personal love story actually! Being a city girl, I never had any exposure to land, agriculture and of course, olive oil. In my late 20s, I met George (now my husband), who comes from an olive oil-producing family. As in a typical Greek romance, at some point I visited his home village to meet the family...and, along with the family, I got to know his birthplace, the olive trees, the mountain. One of our “dates” was to actually go to the harvest and milling of the olives – and that’s where everything began!

The process, the aromas and the flavor of what I tasted was out of this world and completely different to what I knew as a city consumer in Athens. I instantly fell in love with it all and started studying more and more about olive oil – its nature, its chemistry, its personalities – and that was it for me! I decided to build our brand, become an olive oil sommelier and grow a community of flavors, aromas, gastronomy and quality, leaving my office work in the past and changing my life completely. Since that day, I am enjoying every part of the journey, welcoming the challenges and growing with OLEOSOPHIA as well.

How does it feel to have created something of your own from scratch?

I would say it feels exhilarating – and a mixture of so many feelings all into one. The entrepreneurship journey is a beautiful one, filled with creativity, new ideas, innovation and personal fulfillment, but it is certainly not paved with roses. There are many challenges that often bring out stress, concerns, risks and uncertainty, but I would say that this is what shapes you into your best self.

What was/is the biggest challenge as a woman entrepreneur?

There are many challenges in the life of an entrepreneur, and though I try not to think of gender too much, the reality is that the olive oil industry is a male-dominated sector. That said, a big challenge is to find your professional position in that industry, while managing work/life balance and your own personal development.

What do people think of your brand, what do they like most? Any particular brand challenges?

I am very happy to say that people have shown us they love OLEOSOPHIA, by sharing amazing reviews from their time with us at our tours and tastings, and by choosing our products for their family and friends! They love the quality of the products, the experience of our tastings, the people behind the brand. But, above all, I think what they like most about OLEOSOPHIA is the sense of authenticity and belonging that they feel. OLEOSOPHIA is a family, a community, and all "Oleosophers" are welcomed and embraced in our community. Cultivating this has been time-consuming for the brand, compared to other more fast-track, commercial brands, but I believe in investing in human relationships precisely because we become a family.

What's your favorite Greek food and why? Can you share with us your favorite recipe?

There are so many Greek foods I love! After all, a good life needs good food. I do enjoy roasted chicken with a green salad topped with pomegranate, raisins, anthótiro cheese and extra virgin olive oil. But if I have to choose, I would go for a more traditional option, thanks to the warm memories from my yiayiá (grandmother), her gemistá stuffed tomatoes! Here's her recipe:

Ingredients for Marianna's stuffed tomatoes

10 to 12 medium size ripe tomatoes (full size for all the family to eat!)

2 tablespoons sugar (Yiayiá used brown sugar!)

1 cup OLEOSOPHIA extra virgin olive oil

1 finely chopped medium-sized onion

1 lb ground beef

1/2 c. uncooked rice

Chopped parsley

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional)

Dry breadcrumbs

My yiayiá also used to add pine nuts and and small black raisins to add a sweet tone (5 raisins per tomato).

How to make Marianna's stuffed tomatoes

First, we prepare the tomatoes:

Slice the top of each tomato and remove the pulp with a teaspoon

Press the pulp through a fine strainer to get out the juice and set it aside for later. Arrange the tomato shells in a baking dish and sprinkle a little sugar into each tomato.

Then, briefly heat the olive oil (only extra virgin!) in a frying pan to sauté the onion until it’s soft. Add the meat and stir for a few minutes;  then add the rice, parsley, salt and pepper, cinnamon, raisins and 1cup of the tomato pulp.

Cover and cook over a low heat for about 15 minutes and then remove from the heat, letting it cool.

Carefully fill each tomato with the rice mixture - but not to the top, you need to allow some room for the rice to expand (!!!).

Place the tops on each tomato.

Sprinkle lightly with some EVOO and top with breadcrumbs.

Pour the remaining tomato pulp in the bottom of the pan.

Bake in a moderate oven for about one and a half hours. 

This quantity serves five to six people!

You can also stuff some bell peppers with the same stuffing and bake with the tomatoes.

This dish goes very well with feta cheese or anthótiro!

Describe Greece in a sentence - can you share a picture of yourself in Greece?

Greece is home, where the wandering soul will always come back to.

 

Follow Marianna on Instagram @oleosophia  @marianna_deve

You can book your Greek summer tour and tasting with Oleosophia here: https://www.oleosophia.com/toursandtastings

2 Responses

Dana Chiu
Dana Chiu

December 09, 2023

I can second that! She did a beautiful job introducing us to the world of exquisite olive oils when we visited this past August! I will be a customer for life!

Kathleen Ganun
Kathleen Ganun

October 05, 2023

We attended Marianna s olive oil tasting in Greece, it was a wonderful excursion. I highly recommend it

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