OliVaylle olive oilAs a retiree in Australia, former civil engineer Jorge de Moya ’53 happened upon an olive oil production feasibility study from the State of South Australia and did what comes naturally to MIT alums. He dissected it and questioned everything. Back then, not much olive oil was produced Down Under. As late as 2006, Australia contributed only 0.31 percent of the world’s extra virgin olive oil, according to the Australian Olive Association. De Moya’s inquisitive nature took him and his brother, Juan de Moya ’52, on a three-month tour of the major olive oil producers in the Mediterranean, Spain, and the Middle East.

After the journey, De Moya decided there was no reason good olive oil couldn’t be produced in Australia. He also thought he could make a better product than anyone in the world by focusing on ways to combat the factors that can diminish quality: heat, oxygen, time, contaminants, and light. He devised his own production techniques that take just six hours from tree to storage tank. Human hands (which can cause contamination) don’t touch his olives. They are mechanically harvested from trees, and olive oil and paste are protected from oxygen throughout the crushing process. Temperatures are also strictly controlled and lowered to prevent premature aging. Typically, major producers will vacuum olives off the ground and use high temperatures to extract every last drop of oil (a process ironically called cold pressing), which lessens the quality, according to de Moya. His product is also bottled in nearly black glass, to prevent light exposure.

Jorge de Moya '53

Jorge de Moya ’53

The result is a product de Moya calls OliVaylle, which he claims blows away any competition. He may be right. Earlier this month, it won the gold award at the 4th China International Olive Oil Competition. And the Food Channel asked chefs and olive oil connoisseurs to conduct a taste test. Their unanimous verdict? That it was indeed a superior product. See what they had to say.

Learn more about de Moya’s innovative production process for olive oil (pdf) and his career, which includes designing and constructing parts of his native Cuba’s infrastructure.