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Pro Chefs Swear by This Innovative Olive Oil Brand—Here's Why

Article taken from Food & Wine

by Perri Kressel on March 7, 2022

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Corto’s “superior” olive oils elevate any dish.

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Olive oil is one of the most crucial and versatile cooking ingredients there is. Whether it's sauteeing it with garlic, drizzling it on salads, putting it in desserts, or just dipping it with a crusty piece of bread, the possibilities are endless. But no matter what we're cooking, we all want the freshest possible olive oil in our kitchens. That's why several chefs swear by this family-run olive oil brand, which uses a special process to lock in flavor.

Located in northern California, Corto prioritizes freshness right from the harvest. It picks olives off the trees at their peak ripeness, then loads them onto trucks to mill the fruit through tanks in a climate-controlled cellar on-site. But what differentiates Corto from other olive oil brands on the market is its special packaging process, which vacuum seals the oil into bags and to keep oxygen out and preserve a depth of flavor. We spoke to two expert chefs who use Corto in their restaurant kitchens on a day-to-day basis. 

Silvia Barban, chef at the Italian restaurant LaRina Pastificio e Vino in Brooklyn's Fort Greene neighborhood, has been using Corto's products since she opened her restaurant in 2016. She opts for Corto's 51-49 Blend, an olive oil and canola oil mixture that lends a subtle taste without overpowering her dishes. 

"I love the texture Corto's oil gives when you make pasta," she said. "The last part of the pasta-making process is called Mantecare [in Italian], and the Corto Olive Oil just emulsified perfectly with the fat and the pasta and made it [the] perfect texture with my pasta."

Corto 51-49

Barban visited Corto's headquarters and said she fell in love with the brand when she witnessed the oil-making process firsthand. "Something that is great about Corto is the flavor of olive oil never changes. Sometimes, I'll open up a different bottle of olive oil and the taste will change and go rancid, but this is where Corto's quality is superior." She says.

Barban isn't the only chef who uses Corto in her day-to-day life. Holly Gale, pastry chef and owner of Hearth Patisserie in Cleveland, Ohio, uses Corto's Truly Extra Virgin Olive Oil in several of her breads, cakes, and pastries. 

She first learned about the brand back in 2018, when she was a pastry sous chef at a two-star Michelin restaurant. "As a pastry chef, I look at my ingredients as a series of combinations that have connected reactions to each other. Corto olive oil goes great with dark chocolate, and the bitterness of the cocoa powder is lovely with the green and slightly earthier elements of the oil," Gale said.

Corto Truly

She uses Corto's 3-liter FlavorLock Box, which has a small drip-free spout and a tightly sealed internal bag that keeps oxygen out and preserves the oil's color and freshness. "The fresher pressed olive oil has a nice 'green' flavor to it. When you use Corto's olive oil and it's this rich, viscous green hue that you know came from a good place," she added. Outside of the kitchen, Gale's favorite way to enjoy Corto is by tearing off a piece of focaccia and dipping it in.

Gale's favorite Corto pick is a bit of an investment at $70, but you can snag a 500-milliliter bottle of your own for just $24. Both boast the same chef-approved fresh flavor, so if you're in the market for a quality olive oil to elevate both sweet and savory dishes, consider trying Corto for yourself.