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Malibu Olive Company keeps growing

Malibu Olive Company sales associate Irina LeCheminant (left) and owner Robert Jaye smile together at an event selling their olive oil. Photo submitted
Pictured are bottles of Malibu Olive Company’s olive oils.
Heather Warthen, Managing Editor
2:55 pm PDT August 4, 2014

What began as a hobby for longtime Malibu resident Robert Jaye has now grown into a full-time business known as Malibu Olive Company.

Creating three types of Californian Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Malibu Olive Company utilizes nearly 350 olive trees throughout Malibu. Working as a director of photography, Jaye began with a small grove of olive trees at his Malibu home.

“I went to a party with some wine growers and I was chatting with Emilio Estevez,” Jaye said. “He said, ‘You know, you should start a vineyard.’ I figured it was probably not in the cards for me because I had a small grove, but I looked into olive oil and took some classes at UC Davis. I began learning about it and from there, it grew organically.

“I’ve always liked olive oil and sought it out. I’m not an expert, but I’m a fan and I’ve always used it for culinary reasons. I’ve always had it as a part of my life with cooking and so forth.”

Jaye said that the olive oil industry is exploding and California produces the majority of it in the United States. He said the University of California, Davis offers strong support for growers. 

“I had a good opportunity to pursue it and at the time this was not going to be the greatest business,” he said. “It really was just a hobby. Producing my own olive oil sounded like fun to me.”

As Jaye began to make his olive oil and word slowly traveled through Malibu, with Jaye participating with his olive oil in the Malibu Chili Cook-off and the Taste of Malibu, other Malibu residents with olive groves began approaching him.

“They would say, ‘We have 25 trees and we want to be part of it,’” Jaye said. “It became a very slow, organic process. Now we have 350 olive trees spread throughout Malibu. It looks like we are going to plant some more and acquire other groves. We’ve expanded enough that we need more olive oil.”

The Malibu Olive Company produces Reserve Blend Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Romanelli Quattro Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Super Premium California Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil. The olive oils range from $25-$35. They also have olive oil soap, olives, candles and an anti-aging skin moisturizer available on its website for purchase.

The best-selling olive oil is the Romanelli Quattro, which is named for Dan Romanelli, a longtime Malibu resident and owner of one of the olive groves used by the Malibu Olive Company. The olive oil is produced from a blend of Pendolino and Ascolano olives and is described to have “a pleasing buttery aroma and a robust, peppery finish.” 

Jaye said Romanelli, whose grove is located on Morning View Drive, was one of the first people who wanted to be part of it. His home is often used for the promotional photography for Malibu Olive Company.

“That’s the one we produce the most of,” Jaye said. “We sell it nationally. California is really producing top pure olive oil and its as good, if not better, than any olive oil in the world. We have no low-grade olive oils, just extra virgin olive oil. California olive oil is top tier, blue ribbon and the best in the world.”

Jaye hopes people realize when they pick up a bottle of Malibu Olive Company extra virgin olive oil they realize all that goes into it to make it stand apart from the rest.

“All of the California olive oils are good, but what separates my product from others are its personal services, knowing that its fresh, who the producer is,” he said. “We use custom blends to make certain flavor profiles. I can’t say any of them are better or worse, but what I do know is that I maintain AAA quality control – olives are harvested at the right time, bottled at the right time – from what tree it is to where its sold. As a small producer, I am able to do that.”

Jaye, who has lived in Malibu for approximately 40 years, said it was and still is exciting to see his product on store shelves six years later.

“I designed a hang tag and then it started selling organically,” Jaye said of Malibu Olive Company’s early beginnings. “I began getting calls all the time from people saying, ‘We’d like to carry your olive oil,’ especially in Malibu. It was very exciting in an odd way, because I never set out early on to do it with a real focus. It developed slowly but surely.

“Its exciting to be in that world. Its a good product, good for you, locally produced and I enjoy it very much.”

The olive oils are available at Sur La Table stores nationwide as well as Malibu stores such as Malibu Beach Supply Company, Malibu Seafood, Pacific Coast Greens and Vintage Grocers, among others.

When it comes to using his olive oils, there isn’t much Jaye won’t use it on.

“I personally have it on everything, but the most enjoyable way for me is as a finishing oil,” he said. “I cook with it, roasting vegetables, using it on meats and marinating with lemon. Use it as a finishing oil after you cook. Drizzle a little on steak, pasta, even a bowl of soup. It’s actually my favorite way to use it.”

Jaye hopes to continue the organic growth for the Malibu Olive Company with expansion.

“We’re getting big enough to use a food broker to help expand sales,” he said. “We may look for a merger or acquisition with a larger company. We just want to keep the quality up, expand and grow organically.”

For more information, visit www.malibuolivecompany.com.